Header image

#ELVS20 Sneak Peek: Getting Through Tough Times Together

  • Date

  • Author

    EL Education

We sat down with Pamela Hornbuckle, literacy coach for the Detroit Public Schools Community District, about what has made her successful during the pandemic, how to create positive classroom experiences no matter the setting, and more.

Hear more from Pamela Hornbuckle when she presents during the “Teachers Speak” panel during the What Matters Most: EL Education 2020 Virtual Summit.

What has it been like to teach in the same district where you went to school?

It’s been an eye-opener. I get to see how professional my teachers were. They made a tough job seem so easy and seamless. It’s like watching beautiful figure skaters doing graceful moves and being so impressed, but also thinking it is easy because they make it seem effortless. Then you try to do it yourself and you fall a lot and realize how hard it is! I appreciate all my childhood teachers so much and respect the level of expertise it takes to do this job well.

How has the pandemic changed how you do your work as a literacy coach?

This new virtual setting has given me the chance to share expertise in new ways. I like learning from teachers, with teachers, and connecting with other coaches as well. Now that we are online, it’s harder to just go into your own individual classroom and “shut the door.” I see this as such a gift because I have the opportunity to help teachers build comfort and confidence with new tools and platforms. Once we master the new tools, we are able to move onto the literacy aspect. Everything we do now has many layers.

What’s been working in your school district during the pandemic?

I’ve found (facing this pandemic and all the changes that come with it) my school community to be so comforting. We are all in this together. We have learned to be patient, kind, and practice compassion. There is so much genuine care in my district from the top down.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you have for other teachers heading back to school during this unsettling time?

How can you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Vegan or vegetarian? One bite of the Impossible Burger at a time! In today’s ever-changing environment it can be so easy to get overwhelmed in the day-to-day. My biggest piece of advice for all educators is to take a moment to breathe when things get overwhelming and ask for help when you need it. We can’t get through this alone.

How can teachers create a positive classroom environment no matter the setting?

All of our students are learning right alongside us. As a teacher in a predominantly ELL classroom, I learned early on that being a learner alongside my students kept me open. I learned it’s ok to model lifelong learning for your students--you can’t know it all. Look at challenges as new adventures and not moments to potentially fail. And if you do fail, it’s ok. Just dust yourself off and try again!

You can hear more from Pamela Hornbuckle and other experts at What Matters Most: EL Education 2020 Virtual Summit, October 22-23rd.

*Views of panelists and presenters are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of EL Education.