Aug 16, 2021 –
Teachers are master jugglers, especially primary school teachers. They need to make sure that every child in their room is engaged, following, and actually grabbing and mastering the material. Sometimes they have to do this while managing conflict, dealing with hungry, tired, anxious or overly excited children, while nurturing vulnerable personalities. In addition, they should make sure that everyone has the correct materials (sharp pencils, anyone?), And can see the board and hear the lesson.
Multiply that by a pandemic year when teachers have students both in front of them, behind plastic masks and shields, and at home on their computers. Now everything the teacher says and does should be within sight of their computer’s camera and microphone, while reminding students in person to raise their hands using the button on the remote control and speak into their own microphones so their classmates at home can hear their responses.
It’s a lot. But Machelle Moultrie, a grade 4 teacher from Oxford, is an expert in flexibility. “She’s very adaptable,” says manager Jackie Taylor. “This is where his creativity really shines – making sure every child knows what to do and how to actually do it, whether they’re at home or in their classroom. “
Ms. Moultrie actually has another group of students that she is responsible for and those are the in-person and remote children in the next room where Megan Erker teaches in 4th grade. The two taught Noble together before moving to Oxford and continued to teach as a team. Ms. Moultrie is responsible for teaching language arts and social studies while Ms. Erker is responsible for math and science. When it comes time for their subject, they teach children in two classes at a time, two sets that are connected to their computers in their classrooms and two sets that are connected from home. The other teacher plays a support role, monitoring the online chat or intervening in case of technical difficulties.
“Having a partner with whom to take up these challenges has made [the switch to remote and then hybrid teaching] so much more bearable, ”says Moultrie. The two will resume their usual departmental teaching as a team, each in charge of two subjects, when the pandemic restrictions are lifted. “I miss the close personal interactions, sitting at a table with a small group listening to children read or seeing them collaborate on a project,” said Moultrie.
Focusing on just two subjects allows each teacher to focus on planning fewer, but more creative and effective lessons. “I’m grateful to be a seasoned teacher,” said Ms. Moultrie, who has been in the district since 2010, “because I was always able to provide rigor in teaching, plan thoughtful lessons and to create materials that children can use “at school or at home.
She wasn’t always sure she was a teacher. Originally specializing in fashion merchandising, it was her summer and part-time job in daycares and camps that made her realize how much she loved being with children. “A lot has changed in the dynamics of teaching,” she said. “But I haven’t lost my passion.”
His students can tell. Kya Moore, who was in Ms. Moultrie’s 4th grade class for the 2019-20 school year, says she is “a very, very good teacher. She still cares about us. When I am sad or have a problem, she helps me overcome it. She regrets that she missed the last part of her 4th year live and in person with her favorite teacher. “It was hard for her when we got home for the first time, but she did well,” she said of her teacher. “I think maybe she should be a principal someday because she’s so caring.”
Although Ms. Moultrie is considering something outside of the classroom one day, she doesn’t think it involves being a principal. “I want to experience a role outside of the classroom,” she said, while being deeply involved in education. “Maybe as a literary specialist or a teacher coach.”
She relishes the opportunity to participate in the Oxford Building Leadership Team, a group of teachers, administrators and school leaders who meet at least once a month. “I love having these rich conversations and being able to contribute to decision making to move our school forward. “
It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. “It’s not a 9 to 3 job, Monday through Friday,” Ms. Moultrie said. Between full-time teaching, meetings with his school-level team, meetings with the building management team, mothering his own college student, grading, reading, research, communication with parents and planning lessons, she can often be found working until 2 a.m.
Director Taylor sees Ms. Moultrie’s commitment. “What I take away the most from working with her over the past two years is that she is such a great spokesperson for her children and will do anything to make sure they are successful. Good.”
Kiryl Lewis, a recent 5th grade graduate, who also had Ms. Moultrie in 2019-20, praised her former teacher. “Personally, she’s an excellent teacher because she can take fun seriously, without being mean. She made us feel safe and I prefer being in class. She sees what is good in all of us and makes us want to be good.
“I really like what I do,” Ms. Moultrie said. “The best part is having high expectations and getting kids to meet those high expectations. “