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Distance Learning: All in the Family

Click the image to see Evan and Nicole’s rendition of “I Just Can’t Wait to be King.”

For Evan, a 3rd grade student at ETM partner school P.S. 103, and his mom Nicole, who works at the school, distance learning has brought some challenges.

Among the many inconveniences of this shift to remote learning, a common one has been the issue of technology. Until recently, Evan and Nicole had to negotiate sharing a single device in their household. This meant that either Evan or Nicole could work while the other waited for their turn, something that proved pretty disruptive. (Thankfully, they just received a new iPad from the DOE, so Evan now has his own dedicated device!)

While Evan wishes he could go back to school—if only for music class—Nicole sees some improvements in Evan’s learning capacity. In school, Evan sometimes gets distracted by his classmates during class, she says, but now that he’s on his own for school, “He’s doing better, it’s actually really good for him.”

One of the bright spots in Evan and Nicole’s day is the opportunity to have music class with one of Evan’s favorite teachers, ETM music teacher Antoine Dolberry!

Now that classes are online, music class looks a little bit different, and in some ways, a little more challenging. 

Antoine is well aware of his students’ new limitations.  When thinking about his lessons, he says he’s “keeping in mind that the kids are overwhelmed,” which means adjusting what he’s asking of them. 

He’s also providing occasions for students “to do activities with their families at home,” in the hopes of bolstering his students’ spirits, as well as their parents’, many of whom find that they have to be more involved than ever in their kids’ learning.

One way he’s encouraging this family-collaboration is with weekly challenges. Antoine posts the challenge at the beginning of each week in his Google Classroom. One week he challenged his students to record themselves singing their favorite Disney anthem. Another week, he asked them to perform “Lean On Me” with a family member and send him the video.

I like when we do the challenges, because every time we record, and my mom sends it to my teachers, they say they really like it!” said Evan. “They always want us to do more!”

Nicole agrees that the weekly challenges are a great way for her to connect with Evan and get some creative relief of her own. “When Mr. Dolberry put up the Disney challenge, I asked if I could participate because this is my thing!” Like many parents, Nicole spends much of her day helping Evan navigate his Google Classrooms, and having the opportunity to teach Evan her favorite song and perform it together was a welcome break for both of them.

And it was exactly what Antoine was hoping to provide. As Antoine says, the most important thing is, “keep them creating music at home.”

You can see some of the other Disney anthems here!.