Teaching During COVID-19: One local teacher shares her experience
According to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, at one point, more than 1.5 billion students, (or 91 percent of the world’s students) were out of school because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the New Orleans area, schools are slowly beginning to open back up. Some are doing so face-to-face, some are online and some are using a mixture of both.
Meredith Long-Dieth is the director of performing arts at St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie. She’s been teaching theater since 2005, but this year is certainly going to be something new.
“We are doing a mixture of remote and in-person learning,” she says about the school’s approach. “We are also giving students the opportunity to do an entirely remote learning option.”
Long-Dieth has moved her classroom to the lobby of the theater where she can space students out. The school has also purchased teachers 180-degree cameras with remote controls.
“This means I can move around the room,” she says. “I can project the students on the screen, and they can participate in the activities. I tried this last week and it worked out well.”
Long-Dieth uses Google Meet for connecting the class and Google Classroom for sending out communication, videos to preview and even quizzes.
“I have been watching several Google tutorials on YouTube,” she jokes.
Long-Dieth is no stranger to innovation, she’s won a few teaching awards, including “Innovative Teacher of the Year.”
“I love being creative,” she says. “I love the journey. I always tell my students, ‘Pursue what you are passionate about and don’t be afraid to fail.’ I am a teacher and a student. I am always learning, and I certainly have learned a ton in the past few months!”
Before she started her teaching career, Long-Dieth lived in New York City where she performed in several Off-Broadway plays and portrayed “Cha Cha” in the national tour of Grease with Frankie Avalon and Chubby Checker. Locally, she’s appeared in numerous plays and won a Big Easy Award for her work in “Ruthless.” You may also have seen her on TV in new commercials for Lunchables.
She knows that all teachers this year will have to change the way they teach.
“We have all had to re-examine what is important and how to keep our students engaged online,” she says. “I’ve had to think outside the box and really explore tech options that will help me serve my students and their families. I didn’t write this quote, but it has become my mantra this year, ‘Obstacles create opportunities.’ I hope to inspire the kids to do the same.”