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How a Wireless Speaker Helps Build Community

October 13, 2020 | Melissa McCallihan

Recently we received the gift of a wireless/bluetooth speaker for our classroom and it has brought us closer as a community. Before the speaker, all the on campus students and those off campus would log in to Zoom to watch the daily Worship video. It felt so isolating, even though we were all sitting in the classroom and on Zoom together!

After the speaker arrived, we were able to broadcast the video to the on campus community while I Zoomed with the students at home. Before we start the video, I broadcast the Zoom call on the projector and we all get super excited to see everyone’s face! We yell our hellos and laugh together as someone invariably makes a face or shares a funny anecdote. It feels as though everyone is in the classroom at the same time.

As a community we are brainstorming ways to broadcast the students in the classroom to the folks online. We’ve tried turning the laptop toward the students but you just can’t get them all in. Also, it’s hard to hear them unless the on campus students shout. We are continuing to brainstorm solutions to this issue.

Building community is all about the relationships between the students, and between the students and me. This is just one way we are working on it.

There are other ways we are encouraging a strong community.

  • Each day we enjoy a shared read aloud. We’ve been discussing the characters in each short story.
  • There are small group problem solving times for math, and book talks during language arts small groups.
  • Each cohort has a Google hangout chat and often throughout the day, students just type a “hello” and a whole conversation picks up between the students.
  • Lastly, we play a lot of games–online, in the classroom and at park.

We are building a community that is playful, encouraging and challenging.

Melissa McCallihan

Teacher, Grade 6; Science Grades 6-8

Teaching children to take risks and fail well is important to Melissa McCallihan, who has taught for over 29 years. She believes children learn as much through their failures as they do through their successes. She celebrates both in her classroom. In collaboration with the middle school director, art teacher, and other fourth and fifth grade teachers, Mrs. McCallihan has been instrumental in developing the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) program, an extension of the Lower School’s Shared Space model. “STEAM is where students solve problems and sometimes get it wrong,” says Mrs. McCallihan when asked about risks and failing well. “Students need to learn how to do that with grace, and to try again with grit and determination.”

Mrs. McCallihan cares deeply about relationships with her colleagues, students, and families. She works hard to make and maintain connections on a personal and professional level. And follows the mantra “Worship God, Love All.”

When not at school, you can find Mrs. McCallihan searching out a fantastic restaurant or hidden sight to see in New York City.

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