Highlighting Educators: Deanna Houston


Editor’s Note: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced school districts to adjust the way they educate their students. The Inquirer reached out to local districts to highlight the different ways teachers are reaching out to their kids.

Hello! My name is Deanna Houston. I teach 6th grade Reading and ELA at Nixon-Smiley Middle School.

What are some ways you’re staying connected with your students online?

My students and I are staying connected through email and Google Classroom. A few of them have texted me. Sometimes, they ask questions about the assignments, but many times they just have something they want to share with me. 

What inspired you to stay connected?

My students are familiar with using Google Classroom and our school email. I felt Google classroom and our school email would be a great way to stay connected with each other. The students are familiar with it and it is a safe platform for us to connect on.

What kind of reaction have you gotten since connecting online with your students? Were you surprised? Did it exceed expectations?

Oh my goodness, it feels so good to hear from my students! I knew that if they could get to a device with internet that they would be happy to communicate. I am very proud of how they are taking on their online assignments. 

Why do you feel it was important for you to stay connected to the kids this way?

My students and I built a close relationship throughout the school year. I want to maintain this even though we can't see each other in person. We truly do care about each other and each class becomes like a family. I want them to know that I am still here for them and that I care about what is going on in their lives. 

How is your workspace setup at home? Are you using your phone? Tablet? Different lighting?

I have a desk in my bedroom that is now my "teacher's desk." My papers, teaching materials, and notebooks are in the drawers. I primarily use my MacBook Pro and my cell phone to create and send out lessons and stay in contact with students and parents. My cat is a little disgruntled about this because she used to lay on the desk and watch the birds outside.

What’s the one message you wish to convey to others during this time?

I believe we are all learning the lesson of being able to go with the flow and become more flexible. We can do this. We are going to be okay. This too shall pass. I know that was more than one message, but I am a teacher so I couldn't resist.

Anything else you’d like to share? Could be a fun behind-the-scenes story, or the difficulties of working from home. Maybe even a photo of a “coworker” (pets, spouses, kids, etc.)

Our little chihuahua, Buffy, has been so happy having me and my daughter home. She is in heaven right now!