Haley Rooney’s MSU education helped her a great deal in preparing for her teaching career and now for the changes in how education is being delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rooney teaches Spanish, grades sixth through eighth, at Williamston Middle School in Williamston, Michigan. She graduated from MSU in 2017 with bachelor’s degrees in Elementary Education, Spanish, and Linguistics and plans to enroll in the Master’s in Foreign Language Teaching at MSU in the near future.
With the ability for my students and me to be in the same physical space at the same time removed, I’ve tried to find new ways of engaging my students and offering comprehensible language input.
As an undergraduate at MSU, Rooney did a lot of work online and used online educational tools, so during these times of remote teaching she was already experienced with online learning and has a pocket full of tools to use.
“As a language teacher, I spend 90% of my middle school class time speaking Spanish while motioning wildly and running around my room to point out high-frequency word posters (and generally looking like a complete fool),” Rooney said. “With the ability for my students and me to be in the same physical space at the same time removed, I’ve tried to find new ways of engaging my students and offering comprehensible language input.”
During this period of distance learning, teachers at Rooney’s middle school are asked to provide 30-60-minute lessons two days a week, 60-minute office hours two days a week, and check-in with their 6th hour class at least three times. They must document student participation and contact with students and families weekly as well. For those students who are unable to do online learning, teachers provided weekly packets of printable materials. Despite the challenges from in person to online, Rooney is proud of the progress her students continue to make.
“A lot of my students are doing really well during our distance learning. At the same time, it has been a challenge to find activities that are engaging and beneficial,” Rooney said. “The majority of the issues we encounter are with technology. There are many Google apps that are not meant to be shared with 100 students at once, so there have been issues where students could not access a material right away.”
I believe that my love of the language and culture is strong enough that it can travel the distance to my students’ homes and give them something fun to look forward to during this difficult time in their lives.
To help aid with distance learning, Rooney found a lot of resources that were created for teaching Spanish online.
“Last year, I started using an online platform called Señor Wooly. I was able to still use this with my students easily during distance learning,” she said. “They also created pandemic-specific lesson plans that are a major help.”
Rooney uses other online resources like EdPuzzle, YouTube, Google Education Suite, Duolingo, and Padlet. She does wish she had done more face-to-face Google Meets during the spring but has more face-to-face Meets in store for this fall.
“My hope is that our ‘Continued Learning Plan’ brings joy and laughter to the homes of my Spanish students rather than the stress of yet another distance-learning assignment,” Rooney said. “I believe that my love of the language and culture is strong enough that it can travel the distance to my students’ homes and give them something fun to look forward to during this difficult time in their lives.”