A new teacher worries about teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic

Keiri Ramirez got her dream job as a math teacher at a local middle school, but she didn’t envision having to engage her students virtually during these unusual circumstances.

Keiri Ramirez talks about her struggles to teach in a virtual setting as a student teacher. She is now transitioning to her own virtual classroom.

Before COVID-19 hit, Keiri Ramirez was a student teacher teaching four math classes at a high school. Her daily life included going to teach in the mornings, going to her college classes in the afternoon and working in between. Most days she wasn’t done until 10pm. 

But that all changed abruptly in mid-March. The moment the Los Angeles Unified School District announced schools would close and move to online learning, she began to worry about her students. 

“I was just scared not only for my students, but for other students,” she said. “What if they didn’t have a computer or didn’t have internet access?” 

Keiri Ramirez prepares to teach virtually for her students as LAUSD schools start next week. (Photo courtesy of Keiri Ramirez)

Like many other teachers, Ramirez had to quickly adapt to online learning. While she had a teacher supervising her in the classroom when classes were in session, she struggled online as both she and the teacher weren’t used to using technology to teach. She was used to interactive learning in the classroom, and had students often work with their hands and in groups. 

Because her supervisor wasn’t as tech-savvy, Ramirez relied more on other student teachers. She and those teachers created a group chat where they helped each other out.  

“They posted all the materials they were using for their classroom that was online. So I found apps like Nearpod, Pear Deck, quizzes, and that’s how I was able to help my mentor teacher, kind of use this stuff. So we were both learning as we were teaching through online,” she said. 

Keiri Ramirez created a math blog where her students can have easy access to lectures and class materials. (Screenshot from Ms. Ramirez’s Math Fun Place)

She created her own blog called, “Ms. Ramirez’s Math Fun Place.” On her blog she would upload class assignments, lectures, homework, and other learning materials. 

Keiri Ramirez records her lessons through Zoom to teach her students trigonometry. (Video from Ms. Ramirez’s Math Fun Place blog)

“Welcome to my YouTube channel,” she jokes as she starts one of her lectures via Zoom to her trigonometry class. 

Her blog also includes links to access the textbook, notes, and instructions on how to use apps or do assignments. 

While this was all going on, Ramirez was also job searching for a teaching position. At the time, she was about to graduate from California State University, Northridge and feared how things would be different because of this pandemic. 

Keiri Ramirez graduated from California State University, Northridge in May 2020. She majored in mathematics in order to become a teacher. (Photo courtesy of Keiri Ramirez)

“Trying to find a job during the pandemic felt scary and a little nerve wracking,” she said.

While she was a middle and high school student, Ramirez saw that teachers were getting laid off. As she was about to graduate from college, she thought that was happening again, which meant it would’ve been much difficult to find a job as a teacher. 

But luckily for Ramirez, she was able to find a job. Ramirez will begin teaching 7th and 8th grade math at Mount Gleason Middle School for this upcoming school year. 

LAUSD announced schools will continue to stay closed during the fall, so classes will continue with virtual learning. With school starting next week, Ramirez has started to prepare her materials for her virtual classroom.

She feels her experience of virtual teaching as a student teacher has helped guide her. She imagines her virtual classroom being interactive by using Nearpod, an app that gives students a math problem and every individual student a whiteboard so that she is able to see how they are solving it. 

A worksheet from Ramirez’s online teaching kit. (Screenshot from Ms. Ramirez’s Math Fun Place blog)

“Last semester, I learned so much about different apps and how I could incorporate it in my classroom,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m old or something. Like I’m updated with the technology for the students.”

As a first-time teacher, Ramirez never expected this is how her first year of having her own classroom would look like. 

The circumstances isn’t how we envisioned it as first time teachers, but I’m pretty excited to teach virtually. I never thought of teaching virtually, but I think it’ll make us like stronger candidates.

Keiri Ramirez

By Jacqueline Ramirez

Jacqueline Ramirez is a recent graduate of Mount Saint Mary’s University, where she received her bachelor’s in Journalism and New Media. She started her journalism journey in 2013 when she joined Boyle Heights Beat, a community newspaper that covers the East Side of Los Angeles. She’s currently a reporter for Boyle Heights Beat and will soon take the lead role for producing its podcast, Radio Pulso, which she also helped start in 2018.