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First-year Center Line Educator Strives to Engage Young Scholars Virtually

Center Line Preparatory Academy and Kelisha King, virtual kindergarten and first-grade teacher, have something in common – they’re both new this year!
 
To be a first-year teacher is one thing, but to be a first-year teacher starting their career during a pandemic, teaching virtually, and support two grades at the same time is an entirely different beast.
 
“Although Ms. King did not plan on teaching virtual, she has risen to the occasion and has become a top-notch virtual teacher,” said Nick Buza, dean of lower elementary at Center Line. “Ms. King has built a true sense of community in her digital class. When watching her teach, you will see each class start with virtual expectations, you will hear the language of accountability, and you will know the scholars are learning. Ms. King has demonstrated innovative ways to build culture, whether it be virtual rewards such as Google Meet playdates, lunch dates with a friend, or a virtual field trip to Disney World. Although the class may look different through a screen, the connection between scholar and teacher is very familiar. If my child were learning remotely, I would want Ms. King to be their teacher!”
 
While teaching two grades in the same year, it comes as no surprise that student engagement is top of mind for Ms. King. She is passionate about it because she believes it helps build relationships and keeps her scholars interested in what she’s teaching.
 
According to the National Association of Independent Schools, “Engaged students are more likely to perform well on standardized tests and are less likely to drop out of school. The conditions that lead to student engagement (and reduce student apathy) contribute to a safe, positive, and creative school climate and culture.”
 
One of the ways Ms. King strives to engage her students includes Fun Fridays, which she recently started facilitating each week. Students are able to earn the opportunity to participate in the weekly event by following daily expectations. She even mixes up the activity and centers it around her students’ interests, including virtual field trips, movie day, and a virtual escape room.
 
“Fun Friday benefits my students because it makes them want to be engaged and follow the expectations during the week so that they can earn the opportunity to enjoy a Fun Friday,” said Ms. King. “My kindergartners are always interested in extra fun activities.”
 
While Ms. King usually keeps the activity the same for both kindergarten and first grade, she sometimes has to differentiate to fit their needs, especially during the math-based escape room activity.
 
Students in Ms. King’s class can also earn points for coming to class on time, completing their time on iReady, attending Reading Mastery, and participating in their live sessions. At this point, her scholars can earn points weekly and the top two earners get to pick a prize. To ensure all students get the opportunity to win a prize, scholars cannot win more than once a month. ​​​​​​​
 

Prizes include a virtual lunch with a teacher and a friend, a virtual lunch with their team and a friend, a virtual playdate with a pal, getting to be the DJ for brain breaks, getting to read a story or pick a story to be read on a Friday, and a homework pass.
 
Ms. King’s engagement efforts don’t stop there. She tries to make her Google Classroom visually appealing to her students, and even creates a weekly PowerPoint with fun fonts and colors to help her students stay informed as well as interested.
 
Keep up the great work, Ms. King!