UM education student teaches Missoula Online Academy learning pod

UM education student teaches Missoula Online Academy learning pod

In the basement of a house in the upper Rattlesnake neighborhood this week, Alex Carey circled a table of four Missoula third-graders typing on laptops. On one wall, a poster displayed multiplication tables, and on another, student art projects gave the space a splash of color. In the background was a dry erase board with the day’s schedule.

“Alex, how do you spell ‘talked?’” Lucie Moriarity, one of the third-graders asked. “Let’s sound it out,” Carey responded, as she knelt beside Lucie to enunciate one letter at a time. The third-graders were working on narrative writing before moving into quiet reading time. Later in the day, they’d take their Unit 1 test. 

The University of Montana education student has been working as the at-home teacher for the group of six students since the first day of school for the Missoula Online Academy (MOA) through Missoula County Public Schools. She was hired by three families who teamed up to form a learning pod for their kids.

Carey teaches the students four days a week, working alongside their MOA teachers and developing some of her own curriculum to supplement the online academy lessons.

“I’m learning so much in all my (UM) classes and it’s obviously information that I’m going to carry with me as I proceed into my professional career, but having the hands-on experience is incredible as far as classroom management strategies and lesson planning and just having that sort of real, tangible experience.”

Her favorite part of teaching the pod? Getting to know the families and kids involved, which is why she went into teaching in the first place.

“The most important thing for me in any aspect of my life is the element of human connection and being able to connect with other people and build relationships. That’s something that’s a very big part of teaching that often isn’t really focused on,” she said. “If you ask any teacher, they’re going to tell you it’s the students, and it’s those relationships that matter. It’s a great group of kids, and I love working with them.”

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