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'We are adapting' | East Tennessee teachers talk back to school prep during a pandemic

We spoke to teachers from three different counties to learn how they are preparing for the fall semester.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The coronavirus is affecting the world far and wide, and the global education system is not off-limits.

"The old way of traditional learning has literally changed overnight since the impact of COVID-19," Tiffany Collins said, a Green Magnet Academy engineering and design teacher.

She and her colleagues are constantly in meetings about how to teach students in the fall. But, on a personal note, their individual needs are her biggest focus.

"Finding ways to adapt the curriculum to be able to meet their needs to make sure all students are learning, all will be successful upon returning to school," she added. "Because we aren't just facing COVID-19. Our students are dealing with trauma."

An Anderson County 5th-grade teacher, Mandy Miles, is preparing for the start of the school year, too.

"It's most definitely different this summer than it has been in the past," Miles said. "We have to start looking at online platforms and online teaching."

That means asking some important questions.

"How does that look? What can I do to prepare for that? Do I need to record my lessons? How does that look as the year begins?" she said. 

For her, that also includes deciding what lessons to bring over from the previous year.

"So we've really started looking into those standards to see how we can really help these students," she said. 

Over an hour away in Monroe County, Lakin Hampton is preparing for her 5th year as a 1st-grade teacher.

"I love every second of it," she said. 

She said teachers are constantly talking, brainstorming and working through the what-ifs as they come up with plans on how to handle a school year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We say, 'that'll be good if we have to social distance' or, 'that'll be a good idea for the bathroom,'" she said, thinking about some of their idea sessions. 

But Hampton took it a step further.

"I got my google classroom certification just as a backup or a plan-B if needed," she said. 

All three teachers said although there is a lot of uncertainty as the school year approaches, one thing is for sure — it'll take a little bit from everyone to make it work.

"We don't have all the answers but we need all of us together to get back on track," Collins said.

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