Kristin Ortiz is a second-grade teacher at Dora L. Small Elementary School in South Portland, Maine. When she first starting using Lightspeed’s Topcat instructional audio system, she thought it was just a way to help project her voice so that students could hear clearly throughout the classroom. She quickly found it was a way to better connect with students, something that is crucial to learning.
“You can’t get anywhere in academics until you’ve built that relationship with your students,” she said.
Ortiz, a 20-year veteran of the classroom, loves to use Lightspeed’s mic to welcome students into the classroom like a game show host as they enter, or to quickly change students’ moods.
“It allows me to just be silly at times, but it also allows me to just bring it down and talk with them,” she said. “No matter where I am, they’re all really right there with me because they hear that. They can get off task and as soon as I turn this back on, they’re back on again.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Ortiz also used Lightspeed’s Activate system, which allowed her to monitor work among several small works in her classroom using her mic and mobile device. Students can alert her when they need assistance, allowing her to keep everyone progressing on a task. Ortiz can also check-in from anywhere in the room to ensure students are focused on the assignment.
“It’s allowing me to engage and interact with every student, even though I’m specifically working with the four in front of me,” she said.
Biggest personal lesson during the past year?
“We can overcome anything. It’s just building relationships with students, (and) trusting one another. We can do it. It takes work, it takes a village, as that saying goes. As long as we lean on one another, we can do anything.”
Favorite books as a child?
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. “That was the first book that I felt connected to.”
What song makes you dance in the car?
Last Dance by Donna Summer
“When Last Dance comes on, I just move. How do you not dance to that and just feel empowered? That’s my song.”