As the district heads into its third week of school closure for students, The CMS Insider will continue its Teaching from Home series, exploring how teachers are working to support students during this uncertain time.
Deanna Cureton, 2017 Teacher of the Year, is like many parents in our community, working her full-time job from home while trying to teacher her own daughter, Dea. Cureton, an English teacher at Charlotte Early Engineering College (CEEC), said balancing everything can be difficult.
"Homeschooling a first-grader, parenting and teaching is tough," said Cureton. "There are constant distractions and mommy needs that make for real comedy when I am on a video conference with my students. They do love seeing Dea and Sunny, the puppy, running around in the back, though."
Cureton has been using Canvas and Zoom to connect with her students. She hosts grade-level, group-project and individual Zoom conferences with students, posting online supplemental material using Canvas. She uses Remind to check in on the students. "Many of them simply want to hear from us and they truly appreciate the one-on-one attention and support," she said. "My students miss school and they miss their teachers. We miss them, too."
Cureton is also providing support for parents. She stays in frequent communication and hosted a one-on-one Zoom conference with a parent, who is also a teacher, to walk them through setting up a Zoom video conference with screen mirroring. "It was such an honor to have a parent reach out to me for help," she said.
While Cureton works to overcome the challenges of online learning, she knows that some of her students and their parents are dealing with the fallout of COVID-19 as well. "I send personal messages asking how they are doing, coping and what are some of their challenges. While I struggle with homeschooling, parenting and the puppy, many of my students have the same duties as parents. Some of their parents have lost their jobs or have struggling businesses. I try to keep them lifted and send messages that this is only temporary. We will get through this."
Since CEEC students are also enrolled at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, Cureton knows their workload is heavy. "My students are overloaded with deliverable work from their college professors," she said.
Cureton and her students were able to make the digital transition easily. She was already a strong Canvas user, adding instructions, assignments and submissions through the system. "I know this hasn't been as easy for the rest of the district," she said. "I was blessed to be in a school where Canvas implementation was required, so we are very knowledgeable and prepared for this shift in instruction."
As usual, Cureton takes her lead and inspiration from her students. "They are resilient, handling the news well and remaining flexible much better than some of the adults I have encountered."