Students’ pictures help teachers build community during remote learning

COVID and the Classroom

GRANITE CITY, Ill. – You’ve seen it on church pews. You’ve seen it at Busch Stadium. Now, a pair of second-grade teachers in the Granite City School District are bringing their students smiling faces to the classroom even when their kids can’t be there themselves.

Maryville Elementary teachers Carolyn Pirtle and Michaela Genovese-Moss miss having students in class.

“That was one of my concerns going remote, was how I was going to make a connection with the children, because that’s very important, especially at this age,” Genovese-Moss said.

So, they took their inspiration from others and printed out a photo of each student and attached it to the chairs of their classrooms.

“Kind of the same concept as the Cardinals, just creating that community. We were able to print these from our school system from last year,” Pirtle said.  

This allows students to see themselves, as well as their classmates, when the teachers are recording videos or during Google Meets.

“I took and showed them the room and they were giggling, and they were excited,” Genovese-Moss said. “I had comments coming back from the children and the parents saying that they were excited to see themselves in the classroom and to see me in person.”

“We are, again, just trying to create that sense of belonging for the student. And it is a little more challenging in this setting, but it still can be done,” Pirtle said.  

The teachers miss their students and want them to know this isn’t forever.

“It’s the interaction. The hugs. The good mornings. The stories they may bring from home and getting to know what they did over the summer,” Pirtle said. “And we still are doing those things in our Google Meets, but it can’t replace in-person (learning).”

“It’s the best community we can have right now. The safest community,” Genovese-Moss said.

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