Inside the New Classroom: Bonnie Smith, Huntington Elementary

This is part of an occasional series highlighting teachers who are adapting and finding innovative ways to teach through remote learning.

Bonnie Smith used a word we hear a lot these days - surreal - to describe her feelings when Lincoln Public Schools transitioned to remote learning. But less than four weeks later the Huntington Elementary School fourth-grade teacher describes it differently. 

She uses words like “joy” and “comfortable” and “encouraged.”

“At first I felt so disconnected from the way I am accustomed to teaching. However, it's been a joy to find new ways to engage with the students and meet them where they are in this bizarre situation and with their varied home environments,” Smith said. “I've been so encouraged to see so many families striving to work with the teachers and schools to help their child still receive education. The more time goes on, the more comfortable I have felt with remote learning, as I see students and families staying engaged and as I find new ways to partner with them.”

Smith said she’s taken aback by the “gusto” with which most of her students and families have approached remote learning.

“It's been so exciting to see! Some students are even working on supplemental activities that are assigned as ‘extra’! It's been a very cool experience to see the Huntington community of families rise to the challenge and support their children's education, even in such an odd and difficult set of circumstances,” she said.

It’s not only her students who continue to learn. Smith has learned about student autonomy and her tendency to sometimes micromanage.

“I can't do that remotely, yet I am still seeing students who love to learn and are working hard,” she said. “This shows me that I can be giving my students more of a degree of autonomy in my classroom so they feel more ownership and pride in their learning.”

She’s enjoyed seeing her students on Zoom, but her emotions about not seeing them in person hit home recently when she was filling out their fifth-grade transition forms.  

“I found myself writing huge paragraphs to their next teacher about what wonderful kids they are and all the things that make them tick,” Smith said. “I always miss them, but it was tough that day.”


Published: May 1, 2020, Updated: May 1, 2020

Huntington fourth-grade teacher Bonnie Smith at home with her new office mate, Belle.