CHANDLER, AZ – An online teacher from the Chandler Unified School District went above and beyond to keep her students engaged despite the challenges of virtual learning.
Heather Dearing teaches 26 fourth graders at Chandler Online Academy.
“I’m just a very lively person, I’m very sarcastic with my students. I’m very over the top. I like getting them up and down a bit of their seats, moving around. We have brain breaks all day long that we do. don’t have a screen for ten minutes between certain things, ”Dearing said.
This is Dearing’s first year of teaching at COA. She moved to the South Dakota Valley last year.
“It’s been a roller coaster for sure, I actually picked up this lesson from another teacher,” she said.
She made it hers. She said she was prioritizing more live interactions, instruction and entertainment with theme days, indoor physical education sessions and extra office hours.
“We call it our home run,” said Lisa Scheier, who has a daughter in her class.
Scheier said she was amazed at the children’s engagement.
“We wouldn’t be able to survive the pandemic without Miss Dearing, it’s just a fact,” she said.
Because COA is online, Dearing decided to start his own library for his students. She’s about 500 pounds.
“Many of these students didn’t have books at home, and they didn’t want to go out to [the] public to go get books, so I asked my parents if it was okay for me to disinfect my own books and bring them to them, ”she said.
Twice a week, she offers a basket full of options.
“It’s mind-blowing that she carries them everywhere, gets to a central location in her spare time, checks them for the kids and cleans them. It’s amazing,” Scheier said. .
Dearing said there was also the benefit of being able to see his children in person.
“Some of them were like ‘I just wanna hug you right now’ and I was like ‘I know, but we can’t.’ That has been one of the hardest parts – this social interaction. I want it, they want it, from their peers and from their teachers. “
Dearing said his favorite part is developing relationships with his students.
“These kids make me laugh all day, they teach me new things every day. See their personality and be someone they can admire,” she said.
Even though it lacks being a classroom, Dearing hopes to continue teaching for Chandler Online Academy next year.