CAMDEN, NJ — Not able to access their classrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey teachers continue to find innovative ways to keep students engaged.
This week that will include recorded segments broadcast on NJTV — made possible through a partnership with the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE).
Among the educators featured is Kimberley Chavis, a teacher in Camden for more than 17 years.
“These programs are proving to students that teachers are doing everything they possibly can to show them the importance of their education,” Chavis, who teaches at Forest Hill Elementary School, told TAPinto Camden. "I think it's a great for them and parents...to see that all these people are behind you and dealing with this new normal as best we can.”
Chavis, a fifth-grade teacher, opted to delve into the Lenape Indians at the 4th-grade level. She said she wanted to pick a topic that could easily be built upon in the event she does follow-up episodes.
“I’m also challenging students to — just like the Native Americans — make due with what their environment has for them,” she said. “Not to spoil too much, but at one point I keep them engaged by asking them to create a wigwam or log house using household items or anything they can find in the backyard, which would get them fresh air while they’re at it.”
The programs kicked off Monday morning.
“This is a great example of how New Jerseyans are coming together, from educators to broadcasters, to help improve student learning throughout the state,” said Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet. “This partnership demonstrates the kind of commitment and idealism that epitomizes throughout New Jersey’s school community.”
The four programs, available here, will range in subjects including English language arts, math, science, social studies, as well as art, music and physical education. They will air at the following schedule: third grade at 9 a.m., fourth grade at 10 a.m., fifth grade at 11 a.m. and sixth-grade at Noon.
Although her students are a grade above her lesson, Chavis hopes they’ll still tune in to her 55-minute segment.
“I think it’ll be fun just to see me in that light,” she joked. “It’s already been pretty interesting with them seeing me on video conference and the arrangement that we have going for now.”
Chavis said parents have been “outstanding” throughout the process of transitioning education to the household.
“They’re doing the best they can, even those who ‘essential’ workers and have a number of other things on their plate,” Chavis said. “They want to know they’re children are still involved. The district is in the process of getting laptops too [for grades K-12] so I think that’ll give them more a sense of ownership.”
The NJDOE reviews and selects the teachers. Chavis was one of over 200 educators who volunteered to provide a broadcast.
For her segment, Chavis said she found it challenging at first to get used to pausing throughout in order to keep her audience engaged and had to fight her perfectionist tendencies.
“I wanted it to be 100% perfect but at one point I had to turn it in,” Chavis continued. “I can’t wait for everyone to see it.”
Chavis' program will air from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Locate your local channel on NJTV’s “Where to Watch” webpage.
“Nothing is better than face-to-face instruction given by a teacher in the classroom, but while we are all doing our part to flatten the curve, NJEA members are also looking for every opportunity to help students keep learning,” said NJEA President Marie Blistan. “These lessons will provide valuable enrichment and supplement what students are already getting from their own teachers. They will also showcase the amazing work that our educators continue to do every day, even in the middle of a pandemic.”