This interview was conducted during the 2020-2021 winter break.
Imagine teaching second graders at your kitchen table from a laptop and monitoring each of their actions to make sure they are following along. In the distance you hear your fiancé teaching high school students—none of which have their cameras on—in the spare bedroom. Then, out of nowhere, your puppy hops on the table and walks across your laptop. Your second grade student burst into a choir of laughter. All you can do is laugh with them while putting your dog back on the floor. That’s Danielle’s memory of a random day of teaching virtually during the Pandemic.
A multitude of things have changed for Danielle and Matt in the last year. Early into quarantining they adopted Louie, their puppy named for St. Louis—the city where they met and grew up. Danielle says he’s the perfect little mountain dog and it seems that mountains and tables are one in the same to him. Soon after adopting Louie, Matt asked Danielle for her hand in marriage. Obviously she said yes.
While they prefer teaching in-person, they both mentioned how difficult it was to not think about COVID-19 while in the classroom. A student with a simple cough became a time-sensitive decision. Is it a cold? Or is it a symptom of COVID-19? If I let this student remain in class, am I putting the other students in danger? It’s a difficult decision to make when your job is to teach, not diagnose students. With COVID-19 cases on the rise, both Danielle and Matt’s schools went virtual after Thanksgiving break.
Though one would think virtually teaching second grade students would be more difficult than high school students, in actuality it was the opposite. One of the biggest issues Matt faced was students not turning on their cameras. While wasn’t required to have cameras on, it wasn’t easy for Matt to teach a screen full of faceless squares. Danielle, on the other hand, had a group of engaged students who leveraged technology to make some creative projects. They’ve both returned to the classroom for the second semester, hopefully making teaching a bit easier, and safer than the first semester.
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