Southside Elementary School created care packages for students this year with supplies like white boards, markers, paper, and more.
“All the teachers this year, our shirts say, ‘My Students are the Reason,’” said Sydnee Mills, 4th-grade science teacher. “Then, we gave all of the students a shirt that says, ‘I am the Reason.’ A lot of them wore them for the first day of school Zooms.”
“Our goal for the first couple of weeks is just building relationships,” she said. “It’s different when they’re here. The 15-minute time slots for picking up the care packages was used to build our relationships with the kids and the parents. We want to let them know we’re here to help, including dealing with issues logging in on devices. Please ask, we’ll do whatever we need to do.”
For Allison Starks, math teacher at Hopkins County Central High School, communication with students is key. During a recent faculty Zoom meeting, she received three phone calls, five Google Classroom messages, and two Remind messages from students.
“I am doing instructional videos,” Starks said, displaying a doc in her Google Classroom. “This is their assignments for the week. These are the expectations. It has our week at a glance. I create a video tutorial and then there’s an assignment that goes with it. This way, you can work on it when you have time. Also, if you’re coming to a wifi hotspot, you can do all that in one setting.”
“In the spring, a student sent me a message, ‘I’m doing these wrong. I keep messing up. Can you please help?’” she said. “So I went in and recorded an individual video just for her. That provided her with individual instruction in a distanced format.”
Shannon King, who teaches Spanish at Madisonville North Hopkins, wants to make learning fun for her students – even virtually.“We’re already having lots of conversations with them,” King said. “They’re excited. We use YouTube to make videos and we upload it on Google Classroom. We try to pose a question right at the end so they have to watch the whole thing, then they have to respond.”“This is my 20th year and it’s definitely different!” she said. “I’m just trying to maintain my positivity and energy, especially in the videos, so they can say, ‘Oh, that’s the Señora King I know.’ You’ve just got to keep on rolling. Just remember who you’re talking to. These are our students. They deserve to get our very best so we need to remember that, remember our audience.”
James Madison social studies teacher Amanda Bearden is starting her 16th year in the classroom.
“To not have the kids here, it’s quite different,” she said Wednesday morning. “We’re trying to make these phone calls, trying to make sure the kids and parents know what’s going on. A lot of our kids have already logged in to Google Classroom. They’ve started sending us messages. … We’ve created a syllabus. We have a classroom syllabus we’ll give out when the kids get here, but we also have an online syllabus.” The syllabus gives Quick Links, Google Classroom Expectations, and how students can reach out if they need help.
“We all continue to learn,” Bearden said. “I watch historical TV. That makes me a nerd, but I like learning things. I think we need to so we can fill in that gap. My kids I have this year, they’re missing things from last year, but we’re got to keep going with the flow. These kids need a schedule, they need that stability and I think school gives that to them.”
Grapevine Elementary School 4th-grade teachers reached out to their students virtually Wednesday morning, Aug. 26, through a Zoom session. With the district starting on #HCSatHome, the first day of school looked different this year, but teachers maintained a focus on their students. These teachers worked on strengthening personal connections while helping students feel comfortable with virtual learning.
“It was very beneficial to be on that Zoom first thing this morning, to be able to see those kids, and see their smiling faces,” said teacher Justin Hundley. Their first assignment focuses on “Who am I?”
“We’re going to Zoom again on Friday, and they’ll present what they’ve done on the ‘Who am I?’ assignment,” Hundley said. “We’re trying to get them used to logging in and getting the online platforms ready for them so that when we do start instruction, they’re ready to go. We’re focusing on those social connections first to make sure they’re ok, they’re happy, they’re healthy, and to try to get a good start on their instruction.”