We asked Dewitt Elementary School 4th grade teacher Sarah Suboticki some questions about teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, what she’s looking forward to, and what we as a community can do every day to help teachers.
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Sarah Suboticki and I have been teaching 4th grade in the Falls for 15 years at DeWitt Elementary School. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Middle Childhood Education with a concentration in Science, Social Studies, and Reading from the University of Akron and my Master’s Degree in Elementary Education with a Literacy Focus, also from U of A. I live in Barberton with my husband Evan and our three children: Jillian (11), Jackson (9), and Jordyn (6) and our dog, Rocky.
What motivated you to become a teacher?
I actually started in the College of Business to study to become a Human Resources Manager. Although I did well in my classes, I felt like what I was doing wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to be in a career that was fast paced, challenging, and meaningful and went on to change my major to Middle Childhood Education.
If you can pick just 1 thing that is your favorite part about being a teacher, what would that be?
My favorite part about being a teacher is sharing my love of learning with my students every day. I love to watch them get excited about learning new things and discovering their strengths and talents as the year progresses.
How has COVID-19 affected your ability to engage your students in the classroom (or at home) and what are some of the challenges you and your students have endured?
In my classroom, we engage in a lot of Project Based Learning and Authentic Design Challenges. Because we had to maintain distance and were unable to share supplies, I had to really change the way that I conducted my class, especially when we were remote learning from home.
Also, I felt that because of so much time spent remote learning, the close connection that I develop with my students wasn’t as strong as it normally is. There is really something to be said about being in person!
If you had any advice to give parents who have children in school affected by COVID-19, what might that be?
- Limit screen time at home (especially if the students are learning virtually.)
- Find some new activities that you can enjoy together (hiking, playing games, etc.)
- A lot of students have struggled with social isolation. Talk to your children and allow them time to connect with peers.
- Be understanding when they might need a break.
What are you most looking forward to as life begins to arc back towards normalcy?
I am looking forward to seeing my students’ faces!
Any specific ways that the community can assist teachers/schools right now?
Never doubt the power of a kind word! This has been less than ideal for everyone, but we are trying to make the best educational experiences possible for your student. An encouraging email or note to a staff member at your child’s school would mean the world to them.
Any final thoughts you would like to add:
I feel that students have learned so much more during this pandemic than just academics. They have learned important life skills such as adapting, communicating, problem solving, responsibility, creativity, advocating for themselves, learning when they need to take a break when overwhelmed, technology skills…..the list is endless. I am so proud of these kids that wake up each day and give their best despite all of the changes that they have had to endure and get accustomed to.
I love coming to work each day!