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Sunday, March 29, 2020


If you didn't see my video yet, here's the link.

I've met such amazing teachers recently in cyber world. Heidi Pinder truly is a "YouTube Star" now with her channel. I asked Heidi to tell her story and to give some advice with using Zoom to stay connected with your students.

On March 15, back when “shelter in place” was just one of the many drills practiced by schools across the nation and toilet paper was still easy to come by, a parent tagged me on Facebook. Her child and his best friend danced with shaving cream beards leaving sticky white footprints across a soapy patio. The caption read “I think we are all losing it…” I didn’t, ‘like’, or share, or even comment on the post that evening, but the image of my adorable students haunted my sleep. I knew this mom, a former Kindergarten teacher and parent extraordinaire, was only half-joking, but I also realized that children across the nation would wake up the next day to no school. Spring Break was over, yet schools would still be closed and kids would be untethered.

If this mom and I were feeling overwhelmed by the shocking news, the lack of structure, and the confusion being shared about COVID19, then I knew that young children everywhere would also be sensing the unsettling atmosphere. When September 11, 2001 occurred in our nation, I was mom to a sassy red headed four year old and a clingy contemplative two year old and I was eight months pregnant. Although there was extreme uncertainty and fear on that day and the months to follow, my children still wanted to go to the park in our DC suburb. They still needed lunch and baths and stories and bedtime. It was challenging to be a mom in 2001, but I survived by taking care of myself, following our routine, and bringing comfort and joy to my family as best I could.

Combining my memories of being a mom of young children during a national crisis with my thirty years of knowledge as an educator, and my experience as an online ESL teacher, I logged back into Facebook and commented on the picture of my bored but excited students, “Oh, I miss these guys!!!! Big hugs from Mrs. Pinder. Be on the lookout for something from me in a bit.”

It was at this moment that Pinder Kinder was born! Pinder Kinder is my YouTube channel. It consists of 15-20 minute lessons. Each lesson centers around a theme and relates to books that Scholastic is currently offering for free on their remote learning website. My goal is to connect with kids and ease their trauma as I bring them comfort and joy. If they learn something along the way, fabulous! I sing, do finger plays, ask questions, listen, lead writing and drawing activities, count, tell jokes, and more. I never thought I would be adding YouTuber to my resume at age 51, but here we are!

Are we still “losing it”? Maybe, but we are having fun in the process and who knows what we’ll find while we’re looking.

Here is a link to Pinder Kinder, a YouTube channel created while the world was ‘losing it’:

Happy learning,
Mrs. Pinder



In addition to creating YouTube videos, I am also using Zoom to stay connected with my students. Zoom is a video conferencing platform that offers free and paid plans. Although I am not an expert, I highly recommend Zoom to stay in touch with staff members, friends, and even Kindergartners!

My class includes 2 teachers (myself being one of them), 2 paras, and 19 students of all abilities. Our first Zoom meeting was so fun! Of course, we had a few challenges, but here is what my co-teacher and I learned:

● If you are new to Zoom, do a practice Zoom meeting with your team or friends to try out the features. If you are not the ‘host’ of the practice meeting, have the ‘host’ of the meeting explain all of their features, especially ‘mute’.

● Set up your meeting time and date, email the link to the parents. Include your district supervisor in the email. Check all district guidelines and follow to the best of your ability. If in doubt, get pre-approval. Guidelines are changing daily and sometimes hourly.

● Decide if you want to allow your students to ‘enter the meeting’ prior to ‘you’ (the host). We (my co-teacher and I) did allow our students to enter ahead of us and the kids had a great time. Some logged on as much as 20 minutes early and they loved chatting and acting silly together. They were thrilled to see each other! The more students there are, however, the harder it becomes to hear. My co-teacher created the meeting, so I was able to enter as a participant a little early with my camera turned off and observe the kids. It was a hoot!

● Decide if you want to mute your students’ (‘participants’) mics. We tried to mute everyone, but ran into a snafu so we started our meeting as a free-for-all and never were able to mute everyone’s mics. No worries, however, my brilliant co-teacher (Mrs. Covington) got the class’ attention, instructed them on how to mute their mics, and proceeded with our plan. Remember, we are teachers. We are flexible! I believe the current term is ‘fluidity”, but no matter, teachers have been doing this since the beginning of time. Use one of your regular ‘attention getters’ and move on just as you normally would.

● Make a plan for your meeting and share it with any other teachers/paras that will be participating in your Zoom. The purpose of our Zoom was to connect. Our district has explicitly asked us not to instruct through Zoom.

● Our plan (also, what really happened :):

○ Gather with mics muted: wave and smile (our mics were not muted, so the kids chatted/waved/showed off their siblings and toys)

○ Welcome: Mrs. Covington, my co-teacher, greeted class and taught everyone ‘Good Morning’ in sign language. We all said ‘Good Morning’. Mrs. Covington instructed students how to mute mics. She addressed each student by name as needed to troubleshoot. Some parents assisted. She gave a brief overview of our Zoom class meeting.

○ Song: I led our “Friends Song” with mics muted. (I suggest you choose a very familiar song that has hand motions. This part was adorable!)

○ Share time: Mrs. Covington called students one at a time to share something happy that had happened to them since we were last together. She shared first and then called on others to share. If things had gone as planned, she would have un-muted student mics as she called on them, but instead she instructed them how to unmute their mics as she called on them and reminded them how to mute them again when she was done. She reminded them of ways we can respond when people share: sign language for same, heart hands, thumbs up, silent cheer. They didn’t have to share if they didn’t want to and some siblings shared. One student chose to keep his camera off, but still listened. Some parents assisted. It was a beautiful time.

○ Read aloud: I read The Feelings Book by Todd Parr, a familiar book. Students acted out the feelings. Students kept their mics muted.

○ Good-bye: We sang “Skidamarin” (this is our usual end of the day song), waved, and blew kisses. Mrs. Covington ended the meeting.

I loved Zooming with my class even though it was heartbreaking to see how much they miss school. I teared up a few times, but we can’t wait to Zoom again next week.

Happy Zooming,
Mrs. Pinder