From Student to Teacher - Alivia Clark ’20
There isn’t an industry, sector, or profession that hasn’t felt the jolting changes caused by the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus. But, it could be argued that education, in particular, has felt that disruption more than other entities, as teachers, administrators, students, and families experience new models of education together. This fall, Collegium is highlighting Fisher alumni educators who are letting their creativity fly in this new educational landscape.
As Alivia Clark began her very first teaching assignment at Hilltop Elementary School in Glen Burnie, Maryland, she thoughtfully and creatively set up her classroom: placing a carpet on the floor for a reading circle, hanging colorful string lights along the smart board, adding bean bags, pillows, and stuffed animals around the classroom. Clark’s warm and welcoming classroom isn’t in her building. Her students experience it virtually through Google Classroom technology.
It’s a start to a teaching career no educator could have imagined, but Clark is using the skills and knowledge she learned as an undergraduate student at Fisher to deliver her lessons online.
“As we realized the severity of COVID-19, Fisher began to give us more preparation on how to do online and virtual teaching,” she explained. “They changed their path on what we were going to do based on the pandemic. That was really awesome because it prepared me for now.”
In her first few days with her students, Clark focused on building relationships among the class and going over the rules and expectations. While the students were nervous at first, Clark said before long their sweet, funny, and unique personalities began to shine through.
In addition to learning best practices in online education, Clark said she appreciates Fisher’s focus on creating culturally responsive classrooms, which has helped her create lessons that acknowledge and celebrate the different family structures or culture backgrounds of her students.
“One of my lessons asks the children about a writer’s heart. We talk about everything that inspires writers like backgrounds, families, and culture,” she said. “Everyone has a chance to talk about that and feel included.”
As Clark moves through her first semester as a teacher, she said she works to emulate her favorite Fisher professor, Dr. Kathy Broikou. “Dr. B is sweet and soft-spoken. She calms everyone down and makes you feel confident—that anything is possible and if you’re challenged, she’ll be right there,” Clark said. “She has inspired me to be calm, cool, and collected, and it makes such a big difference in the classroom.”