Miller, a veteran art teacher at Stebbins, has done some distance learning herself, but she said she never thought she would have a virtual student teacher. Of course, 2020 has made nearly everyone do things they didn’t expect.
Miller said when Mad River Schools officials asked if she would take on a virtual student teacher, she first thought through whether it would be good for the students, then gained further confidence in the move.
“From talking with Hannah and her supervising professor, I knew we were going to be a good fit, and that we were going to be a team to get her through this.” Miller said. “I want to help her basically get to the next step of her adult life.”
Last week, Miller and Kelly helped art students in Stebbins' ceramics class as they worked chunks of clay into tiny house designs. Miller was encouraging students to try new things by adding chimneys, doorknobs and other three-dimensional pieces to their houses.
Students designed everything from fairy-tale cottages to a palm tree house accessed via ladder.
When Kelly worked one-on-one with students, she’d ask them to hold their clay close to the iPad’s camera so she could see the details of their work. Then she’d give advice on how to work the clay into thin strips or other shapes.
Stebbins student Madelynn Hart said she has considered becoming an art teacher herself. Last week, she was working on the details of a heart-shaped house as Kelly encouraged her to keep trying different things to find what worked.
“It was a little awkward at first,” Hart said of having Kelly’s face looking up at her from her desk, “but honestly I think we got to know each other on a different level because it’s not like she was teaching the entire class, she was working right in front of me.”
Stebbins High School art teacher Joan Miller makes sure virtual student teacher Hannah Kelly gets the full experience, carrying her (via iPad) outside the classroom for hall monitor duty during change of classes Thursday, Oct. 22. JEREMY P. KELLEY/STAFF
Credit: Jeremy P. Kelley
Credit: Jeremy P. Kelley
Miller has tried to give Kelly the full school experience — not just teaching, but carrying her into the hallway as she monitors students' change of classes. And she virtually introduced Kelly to front office staff, school counselors and others so she would feel more a part of the school community.
If all goes well, Kelly will join them in-person in January for the second semester.
“I feel like I’m getting a great experience,” Kelly said, mentioning the strong support she’s gotten from Miller. “It’s been smooth sailing for the most part. We’ve had some technical issues that we’ve overcome. … I think having this virtual experience in my back pocket will really help me in the long run.”