Teachers make classes more engaging to keep virtual students focused

Posted at 7:23 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 20:23:17-04

The school year is underway at for many districts in Central Texas.

At Marlin ISD, Superintendent Dr. Darryl Henson says they don't want to focus on disciplining students who act up while learning virtually. Instead they want to focus on positive reinforcement and engaging lesson plans to make sure students stay out of trouble.

"I don't want them to lose that schedule, that structure that they have, so if my class starts at 8:15, log on with Ms. Sumter and you'll get your lesson just like you would normally get," explained Marlin ISD chemistry teacher Tameka Sumter.

She teaches her class in-person while also live-streaming for students learning from home.

"So students are posting on their stream, including their classmates, giving them references on where they need to be at and what they've gone through throughout the day," said Sumter.

For the chemistry teacher, she knows kids may act up, even virtually. But her strategy is to let students be free to express themselves, so in return she can have their respect.

"In this class I welcome them to be themselves. I welcome sarcasm cause that's just who they are. But at the same time there's a respect, there's a time and there's a place," Sumter explained.

"I have encouraged all of our teachers to ensure that your lessons are so engaging and they're on top from bell to bell, that students don't have time to be the class clown because they might miss some instruction," said Dr. Henson.

Every parent with students learning virtually has to sign an expectation form on the rules students will have to follow during Marlin ISD's Virtual Academy.

"So for any student in turn who is off task, we're gonna quickly speak with the parent. Yes it's okay to give a warning, but we need to make sure parents are our partners throughout this process," said Dr. Henson.

While there's no form of virtual detention for trouble makers, repeat offenders will have their parents contacted, and staff could do a home visit to talk to both the student and parents in person.

Otherwise teachers have the ability to mute or turn off a student's camera if they're being a distraction.

So far in the two weeks since school has started, Marlin ISD says they've had zero disciplinary issues from in-person or virtual students.