• Elevate K-12

Instructor of the Month - Celeste M.

Welcome to another ETalk, where we introduce an amazing person at Elevate K-12 involved in revolutionizing education through high-quality live online instruction inside schools!

Name: Celeste M.

Location: Clovis, NM

Experience With Elevate K-12: 1 year

Expert/Superstar In: Social Studies

What excites you most about teaching your particular subject?

What excites me most about teaching history, particularly American history is allowing students to witness how much we have evolved as a nation. The United States was somewhat of an anomaly when the nation first began. However, I also find it imperative to teach my students America's shortcomings. It is interesting and exciting to see my students form opinions and declare how they would or will address a plethora of situations. I believe history is a key component to well-rounded students!

How do you make live, online instruction engaging?

First and foremost I am always seeking feedback from my AC as well as my students; based on that feedback I have incorporated a few strategies that have increased engagement.

I begin class with a "fun poll." This is a content-free question for example, "If you could live on the moon for 1 full year, would you?" I send this poll as soon as students start showing up. I have found by incorporating a "fun poll" at the start of class I see an increase in engagement and participation. I also ask for "good things" at the start of class. During this time the students can share aloud or in the chat anything good that is happening in their lives (i.e birthday, sleepover, mom-cooked favorite meal for lunch, etc.).

During class, I have incorporated Cold Call. Because I started my sessions mid-year I found it critical to give the students prep-time before enforcing Cold Call. This means, I introduced Cold Call, gave the students a rationale, and also about 2 weeks of practice time with the strategy. After we prepped for Cold Call I began enforcing it for participation points. I continue to write the expectations for Cold Call on my introduction board and also express that the students can ask for more time and/or help on the question(s) they are asked to answer. Cold Call is completely random, so the students know I am not only calling on one or two particular students.

Another strategy I use during class is read-alouds. I ask the students, "Who wants to read?" and allow them to read the slides provided in the portal. This provides students who are not comfortable answering a discussion question the opportunity to engage with the content anyway. Finally, I utilize the tools in the portal: QZ, polls, whiteboards, chat, and private chat.

I always give my students options and encourage them to use their voices. If a student's answer is not what I am looking for, I simply scaffold them to a more appropriate answer or help them find a connection to what we are discussing. I have found that encouragement and acknowledgment of effort are some of my greatest tools in my teacher tool-box.

What strategies do you use to effectively reach your students who are working below grade-level expectations?

In order for my class to be accessible for all of my students, I have uploaded notes, videos, practice test questions, and games in Otus. These materials are available at all times. During class, I scaffold for students who are working below grade-level-expectations and encourage the use of private chat. I do my best to provide support privately with examples or guiding questions.

What do you like about working from home/remotely?

I enjoy working from home because I am able to continue my passion and career teaching while increasing my opportunities for my personal education, travel, and maintaining my home-life as a military spouse. A monumental moment for me happened in January. My dad passed away suddenly, but I did not have to stress about "leave." Elevate K-12 was incredibly supportive and understanding. I was able to travel to my hometown 10 hours away, pick back up on my sessions as soon as I was available, AND stay with my family for 2 weeks. Coming from a traditional classroom setting, this would have been near impossible had I not worked remotely for Elevate K-12.

How do you ensure your students have been successful whether they're learning at home, school, or both?

I believe consistency is key. I am consistent with expectations, supplemental material, support, engagement strategies, and how I present myself. There are seldom surprises and if/when there are I give students a rationale.

Describe your best moment teaching live and online. Be specific!

My best moment teaching for Elevate K-12 happened in the middle of January. I had recently arrived back home after the passing of my dad, and I tested positive for Covid. I was trying to remain consistent and in high spirits (as previously stated) but it was very difficult. Then there was a moment of pure joy in my last session. I Cold Called 3 students and I had 3 more volunteers to answer a discussion question. 4 students decided to answer in the chat and 2 decided to answer on the whiteboard. After the students answered and I reiterated what they discussed aloud, I realized the pens were still on. About 15 seconds later a student wrote, "I <3 this class" on my board.

While it may seem minute to some, this moment made me feel as though my students are not only learning, but they are excited to be in my class. As a teacher, that is all I ever want.

Tell us a little more about who you are--what do you like to do?

I am a first-generation college graduate. I met my husband while we were in college, and I was married at 20 years old. My husband is my absolute best friend. We have 3 dogs and 2 hedgehogs. We love to travel, hike and workout. My personal hobbies include painting, spending time with my nephews, kayaking, and dancing! We are a military family, so we move around some. In July we will be station in Las Vegas, Nevada and I am over the moon excited!

Thanks, Celeste M.

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