Having a sense of normalcy at a time like this is key to building routine, something that Amanda Childress, kindergarten teacher at Warrendale Charter Academy, provides for her students by holding virtual classes every day.
“Ms. Childress has always been excited to teach and be with the kids, even in her home she’s with them,” said Porshea Flowers, dean of lower elementary at Warrendale.
Though Ms. Childress is virtually with them every day, Fridays have become a class favorite since she started the weekly tradition of Fun Friday for her students during remote learning.
When she was in-class with her students, they would do Fun Friday by sharing snacks or having a dance party. She had to adapt to fit remote learning by playing little games virtually, differentiating each week to keep her students on their toes. Some of Ms. Childress’ Fun Friday activities include participating in TikTok challenges to entertain her kids, dancing and singing, and reading silly stories.
Her kids enjoy the tradition! “When I say it’s Fun Friday, they scream,” said Ms. Childress “They go crazy. They giggle nonstop and everyone is bouncing around and having a good time.”
Ms. Childress has been with Warrendale for nine years, but she’s never had to do anything like remote learning. “At first I was thinking, ‘what does remote learning mean for kindergarten?’” she said. She knew she had to do something, so she found a way to keep working with her students.
“It’s been such a pleasure,” said Ms. Childress. “When I wake up in the morning, I have to have a purpose. Now, I have my reason. And all the parents have been so supportive.”
During her classes, she sets rules like raising hands. Initially, she ran into the problem of muting students and them not being able to unmute themselves when they needed to talk. They now try to work quietly. “We do our best to make sure everyone is respectful of each other’s time,” she explained. “I think the students like it. They’re in the comfort of their own homes.”
The students especially enjoy when they get to see a student that logs on for the first time. On average, Ms. Childress has between eight and 10 students log on each day, while others participate on Dojo.
It can be challenging to manage a virtual class of kindergartners, but Ms. Childress has gotten her class into a good routine. They chat with each other for the first few minutes, work on English and math, and use brain breaks midway through.
Though she can’t physically be with her students, she finds ways to make virtual class work for them. She believes one of the best parts of remote learning is still being able to see her students.
To keep her students motivated, she lets her students know what they’ll be doing the next day and says, “I’ll see you guys tomorrow!” Then, when they come back the next day, she says she’s happy to see them. Her students also hold up their work to the screen or read their answers to show what they’ve done. “They want validation for the things they do,” said Ms. Childress. “They want to know someone cares about what they’ve done.”
Keep up the amazing work, Ms. Childress!