Despite school shutdowns, educators across the parish said they are committed to ensuring their students receive a proper education. Kierra Malveaux, a fourth-grade teacher at Oak Park Elementary, said she was in such shock regarding the COVID-19 closures that she thought it must have been a joke.
“When I realized they were serious, I got chills.”
Malveaux was in a staff meeting when the news first arrived and when she returned to her classroom, students had mixed emotions.
“It was a little chaotic, to be honest … some kids were crying,” she said.
She determined that positivity was the best course of action to calm the classroom.
“I tried to resonate with them,” she said, comparing the change to seeing friends on various social media platforms versus in person.
“We might not be able to see Ms. Malveaux for a few days or weeks,” she told the students. “But it doesn’t mean I’m not here.”
Students and parents were already accustomed to interacting on Class Dojo, an educational technology communication app and website, so she decided to move the class fully online, though no official mandates required her to do so. Malveaux said she knew online learning was the best way to ensure her students stayed on track academically.
“There’s no doubt. I saw substantial progress from August to now. I didn’t want to stop that. I didn’t want to hinder them for a month.”
Malveaux said she notified parents of her decision emphasizing that she would make herself available to their schedule to ensure the transition was as smooth as possible.
“I’m going to be at home, so why not?” she said. “Whatever time you need me; some parents are working during the day or night, so I’m here no matter what.”
After being out of school for about a week and a half at the time of the interview, about half of Malveaux’s students had begun to take part in the lessons she records and posts several times a week. She said she is careful not to overwhelm families with too much work so she breaks what would normally be daily lessons into several sessions.
“They upload to their portfolio and I’m able to give them feedback as soon as possible.”
Contrary to popular jokes about “new math” and other difficulties parents may face with online learning, Malveaux said the curriculum has prepared students all along for these types of circumstances. The use of academic vocabulary in and outside of the classroom has her students “well acclimated” to understanding instructions, working through tasks and demonstrating mastery.
In addition to her responsiveness to parents who need additional guidance, Malveaux said often the students are able to explain to their parents exactly what needs to be accomplished with each assignment.
“That’s what this common core teaching is promoting — individualized learning. Students can explain how they went about their routes.”