Story by Shelby Seamans
In early January 2019, the United States documented its first case of the coronavirus. From that moment onward, the lives of many in our country were never the same. Jobs were lost and businesses had to change the way they were run. Schools were shut down and kids were sent home.
For Lisa Choate, things were a bit more difficult. On December 30, she took a job with the Tennessee Department of Education as the K-8 Math Coordinator. But her job looked very different than it would have before COVID.
“It turned us upside down,” Choate said.
Along with the rest of the team at the TN Department of Education, Choate helped implement new ways to support teachers and facilitate learning during the pandemic. To prevent teachers from scrambling to create lessons for their students, the TN DOE began making instructional videos over a variety of subjects throughout the summer and creating lesson plans for teachers.
Students that didn’t have access to technology were able to watch TV to get their education as the TN DOE partnered with PBS to broadcast these videos.
“I spent 12 hours a day sometimes writing lesson plans and making those videos for teachers. I really liked that a lot. But that was very unexpected. I did not think that I was going to go to the state department and make instructional videos. That’s not what I thought I was going to be doing,” she said.
With schools closed, many students ended up missing about a year of school yet are expected to move on to the next grade. “We can’t hold them all back,” Choate said. As a result, the TN Department of Education worked to implement Just in Time Learning. By using this program, teachers are working to teach appropriate grade level lessons while also supplementing previous concepts as needed.
But Choate doesn’t believe that the pandemic has been altogether a bad thing.
“I think it’ll end up being, in a twisted way, a blessing. Because it has changed the way we look at education and we needed to change the way we look at education,” she said. “It’s drawn a huge amount of attention to teacher’s lack of knowledge of technology, students lack accessibility to technology.”
As far as her outlook on the future, Choate is staying positive.
“This is going to sound twisted. I don’t mean for it to, but I’m a silver lining kind of person,” she said. “I know God takes horrible situations and turns it into His glory, so I do think that at the end of all this, we’re going to take all the lessons that we’ve learned from this to be more prepared, to be more supportive of students, to be more supportive of teachers and families. So, I do think in the end, the lessons that we learned are going to make us much stronger.”
To contact Lifestyles Editor Ashley Barrientos, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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