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'We're going to be OK:' Boise teacher checks on students regularly

Amy Griffin teaches 6th grade at Liberty Elementary and says before online learning started she was seeking out her students

BOISE, Idaho — Now that schools are closed we are looking for Innovative Educators making a difference for their students online. 

Ms. Amy Griffin teaches 6th graders at Liberty Elementary School in Boise. Of course, no one is in school right now as Idaho is under a stay at home order. Griffin says she had to do something to keep her class together.

"I think it came from the abruptness of the decision where we said goodbye to each other on Friday fully expecting to see each other on Monday, and that didn't happen," Griffin said. "That coupled with, we didn't really know how long this would go."

She told us over Zoom that she connected with her students on Google Classroom just to make sure they knew she was thinking about them. Griffin also gave them some enrichment activities to keep them entertained. It wasn't enough for her.

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"I did want to hear their voices so I logged into our computer system at school and found their phone numbers and started calling them all," Griffin said.

She told them about starting a Zoom group chat for the class. 

"A lot of them, I did sense a relief in their voice, and they offered me a lot of relief hearing their voice, honestly," Griffin said. "Something about assuming someone is OK and seeing their face and hearing their voice."

It offers reassurance that isn't there through a text message or email.

Gavin Lee is one of her students. He thought it was a great idea to do a visual meeting with the class because he missed everyone.

"So I was super excited when she figured that out and tried to help us all see each other. That was really cool," Griffin said.

Griffin has also been getting insight from Lee and the rest of the class when it comes to online learning.

"When the Boise School District sent out the message that we would be going to online services and there was some uncertainty about what that might look like our topic for that Zoom meeting was how do you feel about online learning, what are you excited about? What do you have concerns about?" she said. "Just trying to get their feedback and ideas so I know how to best cheer-lead them and reassure them and offer comfort and let them know we're going to be OK and do online learning and we're going to make this work."

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It's been helpful for not only Griffin and her class but the parents too. Heather Lee is Gavin's mom and says Griffin is helping families like hers stay sane right now and is doing it with a whole lot of uplifting support.

"It kind of gives him something to look forward too to break up the monotony of staying home each day," Lee said. "I mean, you know we all love each other as a family, but it takes doing something a little different and fun."

The Boise School District is no longer using Zoom for student meetings due to some hacking. Griffin says she is now moving to Google Hangouts. 

If you would like to nominate a teacher that is going above and beyond right now with schools closed send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com.

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