A Creative Approach to Classrooms - Gina Roselli ’12, ’15 (M.S.)

November 16, 2020

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. This fall, Collegium is highlighting Fisher alumni who are letting their creativity fly in this new educational landscape.

Teacher Gina Roselli sitting behind a computer, smiling

Gina Roselli is in her sixth year as a fifth-grade teacher at School No. 8 in the Rochester City School District. Fifth grade, Roselli said, comes with some unique challenges for her students.

“They’re going through changes. Fourth graders are little lovebugs, but fifth graders are more independent—or they try to be,” she explained. “But they also want that reassurance and relationships, and my job is to provide that for them.”

Roselli relies on some creative methods to create an environment where her students can feel secure and safe. She diffuses essential oils and offers flexible seating—students can sit at their desks, lay on a bean bag, or sit on the carpet. She also streams a burning fireplace on her SMART Board, and uses music to transition students between lessons.

And when her students get the wiggles, Roselli holds mini dance parties, giving students the chance to teach her the latest TikTok dance trends.

“My students think I’m insane. Crazy. Hyper as all get out,” she said. “But they know I’m reliable. They can always call me. I work really hard to build relationships with my students and their families. You can’t teach kids who don’t trust you or know you.”

That reliability was no more apparent than over the past spring, when RCSD went fully remote. In addition to teaching online, Roselli made sure her students and their families knew she was there. When her students completed assignments or stayed engaged with the coursework, she would drop off goodie packages filled with small toys, candy, or snacks to their houses to celebrate their successes and achievements.

This semester, Roselli meets with her class as a whole group and in smaller groups. On Wednesdays, she holds office hours to answer questions or collaborate with her colleagues. Sometimes when she drops off goodie bags and materials, those trips turn into impromptu lessons.

“If I can help with a situation, I will,” she said. “Even if that means busting out a whiteboard, sitting outside their door, and walking them through a concept.”