Faculty Feature: Bayla Sussman, Grade 1 Teacher

“Waldorf education . . . online? What?! How?!”

Like Waldorf teachers around the globe who have struggled to bring this unique education to students via largely virtual paths, teachers at Tucson Waldorf school have also been presented this unprecedented challenge. Yet, they have risen to the challenge and have produced some very successful and effective programs! In this blog, we ask faculty questions about this transition and how it has impacted them. In today’s blog, we feature Grade One teacher, Bayla Sussman.

TWS: Give me a brief overview of what the transition from on-campus teaching to distance-teaching has been for you.

BS: As I began this very new experience of teaching first grade online, I kept the words of a dear friend in my head. On the first day of school she told me “you are doing something nobody has ever done before!” Being on the computer is such a different experience than being in person but connection is possible. It has been wonderful to be able to connect with students one on one and to be able to work in smaller groups. Without the usual distraction of a classroom, I have been able to really focus on building skills like letter recognition and formation in a very solid way.

TWS: What was the most challenging part of this process?

BS: The most challenging part was trying to figure out ways to engage students over the screen. Switching activities every 5-10 minutes has helped a lot and remembering to find a rhythm that breathes has also helped. For example, If we are doing a writing exercise for 5 minutes, then the next activity needs to incorporate some sort of movement. I have also had find ways to build the connection and relationship with my new first graders over the screen. One on one weekly check-ins has helped with this.

TWS: What do you miss the most about teaching in person?

BS: I miss the little moments of connection that naturally happen throughout the day. A treasure slipped into my hand, a silly joke told during a transition, or a story about a child’s day.

TWS: What are you most proud of?

BS: I am so proud of my students and parents for being flexible and willing to jump into the unknown.

TWS: Is there anything you’ve learned from this process that you can take back into the classroom when you are together again?

BS: Simple is best!