Teaching With the Times

Savannah WaszczukAccess Launch, Meet a Staffer

Fourth grade teacher Amber Howard shares her experience of teaching elementary school students online during a national pandemic.

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I've wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. My second grade teacher saw me helping one of my friends and said I was really good at teaching. It was like my life was changed forever at that point—I’ve wanted to be a teacher since that time. She made teaching look fun. 

My undergraduate degree is in elementary education, and I got my masters degree in literacy. I’m certified K-12, but I’ve been teaching elementary for seven years now. 

I was the teacher of one of the first classes at Springfield Public Schools to get laptops when the district went one-to-one five years ago, and I began adapting my own classroom curriculum right away. That flowed into me developing a skill set to teach online. I decided to put that to use when I heard Launch was hiring full-time elementary teachers. But my role here is a bit unique in that I’m not only teaching—I also write curriculum, and I’m the department head for fourth grade. 

At first I was nervous on how I would develop relationships with students online, but now I actually feel more connected with these kids than I did my seated kids. I have students from all over the state, and they’re really wanting to connect with a teacher right now, because of the circumstances. They want that relationship. Their desire to want it and my desire to have it is really funneling into some great connections. I also get more one-on-one time with my online students than I did with kids in the classroom because of how my schedule is set up.

Every morning we have a morning meeting where we do team builders and get-to-know you activities, and all of my students say that’s their favorite part of the day. They get to go to breakout rooms and talk about their favorite things—they’re getting to connect and getting to know one another. They’re developing friendships with their online classmates.

I’d say one of my favorite things about my job is that I actually have three different roles, and I enjoy seeing how they all work together. As the department head I get to support other fourth grade teachers, and that work has been really rewarding, on top of the already rewarding job of working with kids.    

 “I have students from all over the state, and they’re really wanting to connect with a teacher right now, because of the circumstances. They want that relationship."

Amber Howard
Launch Elementary Teacher

Home District: Springfield R-XII
Years in Education: 12
Degree: BSED, Elementary Education; MSED, Literacy; EdD (coming Spring 2021!), Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis
Fun Fact: Mrs. Howard’s dog, Nutmeg (pictured right), comes to Mrs. Howard’s online class once a week and hangs out online each day during daily announcements.

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