“I desired to bring art to our students because I could not sit at home and do nothing!” he reflected. “I wanted to be accountable during an uncertain time.” Adjusting his teaching style to work online, he begins his lessons by logging into Google Classroom and addressing a virtual class of over 25 students.
Jones focuses on adapting his hands-on classroom to remain just as engaging in an online environment. Reflecting on how he creates his remote learning lesson plans, Jones shared that he begins with the basics.
“I start with the most practical materials that our families may have on hand. Those materials range from pencils, pens, paper, markers, and paint in some cases, said Jones. “The common denominator, across all homes, is some form of pencil and paper. I start there and build up.”
He aims to create lessons that will stick with his students. “It is all about the information for the lesson. I would like students to take what is being presented and apply it to their own knowledge.”
While the art classes are running successfully now, the process took a bit of getting used to both for teachers and students as they worked to figure out how to carry on as normally as possible.
“Transitioning to remote learning has indeed been challenging, yet, Kawon Jones has demonstrated model teacher leadership as we’ve made adjustments to how we provide instruction,” said Alisha Fisher, principal at Atlanta Heights Charter School. “He makes maintaining consistent connections with our scholars a priority even in these times of uncertainty! He demonstrates grit, innovation, and persistence in providing artistic and creative outlets for our scholars!”
His lessons often include a practical portion, focusing on verbal instruction, followed by an additional application-based lesson, where he asks students to follow along with him as they work through techniques explored in the practical portion.
Jones loves interacting with his students during the online lessons. “It allows me to focus on what they have to say. The opportunity has provided me a way to reach all my students at one time.” One shining example came to life in a recent lesson, when one student chimed in saying: “Mr. Jones, I can’t do it, mine doesn’t look like yours!” Without missing a beat, Jones responded with “That’s not true, now you have more opportunities to get it right!”
Atlanta Heights’ students and their families have been very receptive to the new remote learning. “My son’s experience with remote learning has been super cool,” said Cydnee Boivert, a parent at AHCS. “Mr. Jones has been great at allowing kids to be able to express themselves during art. I can see this as an inspiration to students who see art as their passion.”
Focusing on making these lessons even more engaging, Jones has invited local artists to join in and address his students as guest speakers. Recently, local artist Fabian Williams joined to share a look at his current work. Williams is an Atlanta-based visual and performance artist best known for mural work depicting black cultural and civil rights leaders in modern and futuristic contexts.
Through these remote lessons, Jones encourages his students to think like an artist. He expressed that he “aims to expose kids to work they may not otherwise have had access to.” To connect further with students, during his lessons, Jones utilizes the chat feature to interact with students and share additional pieces of information from the lesson.
“It’s so important that the scholars become a part of your family, part of your thoughts,” Jones said. “You begin to realize how much they mean to you. I had to do something and be an outlet for those kids and anyone who needs an outlet while at home.”