TSS Blog

Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week with Ms. Fields

May 4-8, 2020 is Teacher Appreciation Week, and it’s important now more than ever that we recognize and celebrate the significant role educators play in student’s lives. With the dedication teachers have put into changing the structure of their classrooms with social distancing, we want to thank those difference makers in Tennessee. 

Read below as Ms. Melissa Fields, an English teacher from Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, Tennessee, shares about her experience teaching through a pandemic and how she engages with her students online. Ms. Fields graciously took the time to show us her online classroom and what her students have been learning during this time. Thank you, Ms. Fields, and educators across the state, for working so hard to adapt and keep your students connected during this unprecedented time.

I have been an educator for 21 years, and I must say that I never expected to teach during a pandemic. I admire districts across the state that are accepting the challenge of transitioning to online learning with their students. In doing so, they have found how important community really is. The COVID-19 crisis has certainly strengthened the bond between all educational stakeholders. I feel extremely blessed to work for a district that is dedicated to continuing the joy of learning!

I work in Kingsport, Tennessee, and the KCS system is working diligently to make sure that students and parents feel supported during this educational transition. The system offers free food to students and regularly updates parents. Elementary teachers have worked tirelessly to create resource packets that were safely distributed to parents, and middle and high school teachers are delivering content online via Google Classroom and/or Canvas. Thanks to the system’s successful implementation of a 1:1 technology initiative [all students have a digital device] and local internet carriers who offered free internet for two months, students remain engaged in their learning.

It is business (though a bit unusual) in Kingsport! Online learning presents unique challenges and demands adjusted pedagogy; however, it also offers rewarding experiences.

As an English teacher at Dobyns-Bennett High School, I am encouraged by my students’ participation, and I am so thankful to work for a system that trusts me as a professional. Like most teachers, what I miss the most about on-site instruction is the face-to-face interaction with my students. However, I have found that keeping the lines of communication open helps me maintain rapport with my students. They regularly email me and send valuable feedback about the online process. I ask for their input quite a bit as to how they want to tackle an assignment: Do they need a YouTube video of me explaining a procedure, do they need help locating an online book, do they need a Google hangout meeting? My relationship with the amazing Library Media Specialists at DB has been a huge asset as well.

Perhaps the single most important aspect of the online classroom is the partnership it creates between the student and teacher. If the teachers are open to feedback and input from the students, it will surely help them navigate the online learning environment more successfully. At least, that has been the case for me.

I receive daily emails from my students that let me know they are still taking their learning seriously and even enjoying it. One student wrote to me and said she was loving her online book. She said, “Ms. Fields, you have to read Kate Scowen’s i.d.!” Another student wrote, “Can this journal be both typed and displayed through several high-energy YouTube videos with dazzling VFX magic?” My response was, “But of course!”

Even their questions lead to encouraging words. For example, one student asked me about the finished product for an inquiry-based research project that my year-long classes are completing. Then she clarified by writing, “I asked because I’m actually really excited about my research topic.” These are the sorts of things they would be telling me in the classroom, and it makes the lack of face-to-face time much more bearable. I think asking for feedback often and keeping the communication lines open have made this process successful.

I would also stress the fact that it is important not to overwhelm students with new technology or to use technology you aren’t comfortable with. I think teachers need to find the platforms that work best for them and not feel pressured to try something new every day. That will likely frustrate them and their learners.

Using platforms that the students have already been using for the class is probably the best option. I’ve used Google Classroom with my students all year, so they were able to transition quite easily. Of course, these unprecedented times will require innovation. Many of my colleagues are doing fantastic teaching online through other technology tools, and I think it is wonderful that the students are getting exposure to various apps. I’m posting more YouTube videos of myself than before, and I did add screencastify videos to my technology arsenal. Other than that, I’m keeping it as simple as I can for my kids. In this short video, I explain how Google Classroom keeps my English 10 classes moving full steam ahead!

Ms. Field’s Online Classroom

Tristar Reads

TRISTAR READS: STEAM is Magic

Fri

May

29

Read Along with Chairman Mark White “The Little Engine That Could” We’re excited to catch up with Chairman White this week as he reads “The Little Engine That Could” by... more
learn more

Tristar Reads

TRISTAR READS: Dancing is Magic

Thu

May

21

Read Along with Rep Esther Helton “Giraffes Can’t Dance” This week we joined Rep Helton as she reads “Giraffes Can’t Dance” by Giles Andreae aloud to us Thank... more
learn more

TSS Blog

TSS’ New Website: How is our improved website m...

Tue

May

19

Tennesseans for Student Success is excited to announce the recent launch of our new and improved website at wwwtnsucessorg The goal with the new site is to provide a user-friendly experience for... more
learn more

Inside TNSuccess

Inside TNSuccess: May 18

Mon

May

18

Tennessee COVID-19 Update Recently, Governor Bill Lee’s Stimulus Financial Accountability Group held its second meeting to help Tennessee business owners get back on solid ground More... more
learn more

TSS Blog

A Well Rounded Education at the Chattanooga Cha...

Fri

May

15

Chattanooga Charter School of Excellence (CCSE) is located in the heart of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was established in 2011 CCSE provides high quality, rigorous teaching, and learning several... more
learn more

Tristar Reads

TRISTAR READS: Science is Magic

Fri

May

15

Read Along with Sen Bill Powers “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” This week we caught up with Sen Powers as he reads “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff aloud to us... more
learn more

TSS Blog

Public Curriculum Meets Outdoor Education at Iv...

Thu

May

14

This week we are learning about several different charter schools around the Volunteer State during National Charter School Week Today, we hear from Ivy Academy Environmental Charter School in... more
learn more

TSS Blog

Mindful Moments with Perea Elementary School

Wed

May

13

Perea Elementary School, located in North Memphis, is a public charter school that opened in the fall of 2018 Led by Deadre Ussery, Perea takes a holistic approach to education to prepare students... more
learn more

TSS Blog

Innovating in Education with National Charter S...

Mon

May

11

This week is National Charter School Week, and we are pleased to recognize and celebrate all the charter schools that make Tennessee such an innovative place to learn What is a charter school A... more
learn more

Tristar Reads

TRISTAR READS: Learning is Magic

Fri

May

8

Watch Rep Leatherwood Read “No Roses for Harry!” Join us this week as we watch Rep Tom Leatherwood (and his dog, Toby!) read “No Roses for Harry!” aloud At Tristar Reads, we... more
learn more

TSS Blog

#SendTeachersLove During Teacher Appreciation Week

Fri

May

8

Teachers are incredibly instrumental in the lives of our students in and outside of the classroom As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, TSS would like to take a moment to recognize those... more
learn more

TSS Blog

Tristar Read’s 2019 Middle School Winner’s Expe...

Wed

May

6

According to the Tennessee Department of Education, 349 percent of Tennessee students are at or above their grade level in English language arts With academic achievement gaps and the impact of the... more
learn more

Press Releases

Tennesseans for Student Success Announces New W...

Tue

May

5

NASHVILLE – Today, Tennesseans for Student Success (TSS) announces the launch of their newly designed website at wwwtnsuccessorg The new site features a more streamlined and engaging... more
learn more

Inside TNSuccess

Inside TNSuccess: May 4

Mon

May

4

Tennessee COVID-19 Update Recently, Governor Bill Lee released first-steps for the opening of Tennessee’s economy called the “Tennessee Pledge” The governor’s aim through the... more
learn more

TSS Blog

Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week with Ms. ...

Mon

May

4

May 4-8, 2020 is Teacher Appreciation Week, and it’s important now more than ever that we recognize and celebrate the significant role educators play in student’s lives With the... more
learn more

Tristar Reads

TRISTAR READS: Reading is Magic

Fri

May

1

Welcome to the kick-off week of Tristar Reads 2020! We are pleased you’ve joined us as we journey through the magic of reading this summer Tristar Reads is an annual summer reading program by... more
learn more

TSS Blog

Tristar Reads: How the Program Impacted Last Ye...

Tue

Apr

28

Tristar Reads is our annual summer reading contest designed to encourage students across the Volunteer State to keep up their reading skills during the summer while also cultivating a joy for reading... more
learn more

Tristar Reads

Tristar Reads Spring Edition: April 24

Fri

Apr

24

Tristar Reads, our annual summer reading program, doesn’t begin until May, but as most students are at home in this season, we want to offer various resources and activities for parents and... more
learn more

Inside TNSuccess

Inside TNSuccess: April 20

Mon

Apr

20

Tennessee COVID-19 Update As our schools, economy, and life in general moves at a rapidly different pace than one month ago, TSS is keeping our finger on the pulse of education-related COVID-19... more
learn more

TSS Blog

UT Promise: Make a Difference in a Student̵...

Fri

Apr

17

The University of Tennessee recently announced a new, student-success-oriented scholarship program that offers free tuition and mandatory fees for qualifying Tennessee undergraduate students who have... more
learn more

Advocacy & Policy

Emerging from this crisis with a bright future ...

Thu

May

21

On behalf of Tennesseans for Student Success, we hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy during these uncertain times The impact of COVID-19 has been far-reaching From Memphis to... more
learn more