Burnett teaching tandem provides unique simultaneous in-person, distance learning experience to students
For Burnett Elementary School sixth grade students, the math lessons come fast and furious from the teaching tandem of seasoned educators Kristian Lecours and Jennifer Harlow—whose classroom compatibility is contagiously engaging.
The duo immediately started team teaching at the very beginning of MUSD EducatEveryWhere in March 2020, and has not looked back. “Honestly, the benefits of team teaching are exponential to both students and teachers,” said Lecours, who is in his sixth year at Burnett. “The kids are held more accountable and engaged since we have two sets of eyes watching them.”
Lecours has a handful of in-person students in his classroom, the number depends on the day, while the rest of the class is remotely signed on through Zoom. Harlow is also online, monitoring the chat, providing helpful tips and words of encouragement while making sure students are staying on task. A Jamboard allows the in-person and online students to work simultaneously on the same questions.
“Sharing the workload has been amazing,” said Harlow, now in her 16th year at Burnett. The two share 67 sixth-grade students. “We have different strengths and bounce ideas off each other when it comes to instruction.”
Their chemistry is undeniable.
For math, Lecours takes the instructional lead. On this particular day, he projects the warm-up questions on the Jamboard and then rotates between calling on students logged on and in-person to work through problems step by step.
“What do you have to do here?” he asks an in-person student who responds, “divide both sides by 3.2.” Then, he turns to an online student to share, “what’s the shortcut?” Lecours, wearing a mask and shield at the front of the class, works at a steady pace to keep all the students engaged at once.
The daily school schedule consists of physical education, enrichment, reading, recess, math, lunch and social studies in the afternoon. In addition, students who need extra support stay on while others participate in small reading groups. They are reading the novel, “I Am Malala,” and the discussion has been robust. Harlow takes the lead in Language Arts while math is Lecours’ forte.
“In a weird way, the kids are more engaged, sharing more with better dialogue this way,” Lecours said. “We have kids in class who are Islamic, and they are way more comfortable sharing their beliefs and the students are super respectful.”
Each month, it is packet-pickup time for sixth-grade families. Again, Lecours and Harlow work in tandem, distributing work packets for math and science, items ordered by students from the Bulldog Boutique, and even some extra goodies for students. Parents, most with their children, drive through the parking lot to pick up the items as the Burnett teaching tandem greets them all with the same shared enthusiasm.
Rancho Milpitas Middle School received word this month from the California Department of Education that it was selected as a 2021 California Distinguished School.
The 2021 California Distinguished Schools Program recognizes California schools that have made exceptional gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education for all students.
“This accomplishment is a result of our collective and collaborative professional efforts to support our students over the last several years,” said Rancho Principal Casey McMurray. “This is definitely a highlight in an otherwise very challenging school year.”
Rancho, which follows 2020 recipients Rose and Curtner Elementary Schools, qualified for this prestigious honor under Category 2 of the California Distinguished Schools Program for Exceptional Student Performance in English Language Arts and Mathematics as well as Suspension Rate and Chronic Absentee Indicators.
“We will celebrate this recognition and share it with our community,” McMurray said. “Kudos to each of our team members for the work they have done and continue to do despite the difficulties.”
View the CDE’s news release announcing this year’s Distinguished Schools at https://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr21/yr21rel20.asp