A Day in the Life of a Virtual Learner with Mary Korte

October 15, 2020

Mary Korte is a PEBC Lab Host and primary teacher who has historically co-taught a multi-age primary class at the Jefferson County Open School. In years past Mary could be found sitting eye to eye with her young learners and discussing the ways in which words can create beautiful images for readers or how the natural world unfolds right before us each and every day. This year Mary is teaching a group of second and third graders who have named themselves the “dragonflies.” Mary has found that after 27 years in the classroom, she feels more like a novice than ever before. Listeners will appreciate Mary’s candor when she shares the challenges and joys of virtual learning.

Mary believes in curiosity, self-direction, and play which initially made planning for and implementing virtual learning a challenge that she and her teammates took on last spring by providing rich asynchronous learning opportunities for their students. Yet, this year, Mary found herself teaching 29 second and third graders virtually without a teammate. Mary dug into her beliefs about community and workshop and started planning. Kicking off her year with virtual home visits, providing materials for students to manipulate at home, and creating a schedule that provided time for students to engage with rich tasks and texts she has established rituals and routines for her community of learners. Listen in as Mary describes how she incorporated morning meeting, reader’s, writer’s, and math workshops, reading aloud, science and social studies integration, and play into her students’ lives. Mary actually walks us through how she structures her workshops so that students have rich mini lessons, choice, independence, discourse, collaboration, support, and time for reflection. In order to do this hard work, Mary has shifted her identity from a “remote teacher” to a “virtually connected advisor” who still leans into her beliefs, forms partnerships with caregivers, and gives herself permission to be a learner all over again.


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