Veteran teacher finds fun way to “see” students during virtual learning

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Kathleen Ortiz

Calculus and precalculus teacher Jim Dang works in his classroom on Aug. 12. The school year started on Aug. 11 and will be virtual until Aug. 24. "We as a school are very resilient, strong minded," Dang said. "As a family and school we’ll find a way to get through this."

Kathleen Ortiz, Editor-in-Chief

While watching the Astros play this summer, calculus and precalculus teacher Jim Dang got an idea for his own classroom. He saw the fan cutouts in the stands and figured he could do something similar for his students by taping their school photo to the chairs around the room as if they were there. During each class on Aug. 11 and 12, he took videos of their desks and then posted them on Twitter

“Apparently, it was retweeted quite a bit,” he said. “It looks like it’s very positive given the circumstances. I miss the engagement with the kids, and thought this could be an alternative way they can feel like they’re in class.”

His goal is to have an equal relationship with his students in both his calculus and precalculus classes, but it can be more difficult to do that virtually. The majority of his calculus students have already had him as a teacher, but for his precalculus students he met them for the first time over Zoom. 

Starting on Aug. 24 students are allowed back in classrooms, and teachers are working hard to make the environment as safe as possible for those choosing to return. While Dang wishes the year was more typical and predictable, he is trying to prepare himself for the unknown and whatever is ahead.

The tweets and chair photos were just a way to help him and his students adapt to the “new normal” in a fun way.

Dang’s classroom tweets from the first two days of school received a total of 1,808 views. His creativity was praised through replies and retweets.

“We as a school are very resilient, strong minded,” Dang said. “As a family and school we’ll find a way to get through this.”