Northern Elementary’s Klee brings a positive outlook to virtual teaching


Hannah Klee, a seventh-year  teacher who currently teaches first grade, is doing what most of her colleagues and students are doing this year with the virtual classroom: making the best of things. While her principal Daryl Pugh praises her work, Klee admits that the situation is “an unusual challenge.”
    The idea of teaching virtually overwhelmed many teachers, students, and families alike, and many admit that that first week was rocky, but Klee in turn praises her students. “They have adjusted well, but this isn’t ideal. I am surprised how well first graders have caught on. Things didn’t go as badly as I had thought they would.”
    Getting “everyone on the same page,” as Klee says, has been a little bit of a challenge.
    “I can explain what to do to the class, but I can’t go to them to help them.”
    That means she has to think outside the box. “I have to think about how to explain things differently to help them understand, but sometimes even sharing my screen doesn’t help.
    “It’s been challenging. Out of the norm.”
    Those challenges don’t come only through classroom teaching. Teachers are also on the front lines when it comes to finding out what may be out of the norm for their students. In the classroom, teachers often see signs of home life changes or other childhood traumas that others may be too overwhelmed to notice. Klee says that right now, she has to be more aware of those relationships between teacher and students as well as among the students themselves. These social aspects are at least as tricky to foster as are teaching methods.
    “I try to get them all on camera to let them talk their friends. Once they are on, I look to see who is there. I pay attention, too, to who I haven’t heard from and who hasn’t logged on with assignments. I start by reaching out with Remind (the automated classroom tool for assignments and direct communication to the teacher and classmates). If I get no response, then I call.”
    Sometimes, however, that is not enough. “If I can’t get them by phone, then I go to the counselor, and we discuss a possible home visit.”
    She also has to consider that the internet is not always cooperative. The county is known to have a lack of reliable internet service to some areas, but even those families with reliable service are sometimes meeting with frustrations.
    “Rain can cause a lack of ability for students to log on some days, and if a family has multiple children logging on for school or if Mom or Dad is also using the internet for work, some kids can have difficulty getting on just because of the overuse of the service in the household.”
    The schools are providing help for families who meet with technical issues through the week especially through their library media specialists, but Klee could not say enough about the support teachers are getting from the administration, as well.
    “They are fantastic,” she raves. “Mr. Pugh comes around to check on us, and he does anything he can to help. The guidance counselor also checks.”
    And then there is that idea of teamwork among the faculty itself. “Everybody has been helping everybody out. We’ve been getting through it together.”
    While Klee remains quite positive about the situation, she admits that planning takes twice or three times the amount of time that it normally does. When the idea was suggested, she admitted planning for virtual lessons was quite similar to planning for a sub. Everything has to be spelled out in more detail than it would have to be if she were in the classroom with the students; however, that was not even on her mind as she shared her thoughts until she was asked directly. Her main thought was the thought of every teacher at this time.
    “I’d rather just be with the kids.”