DU QUOIN — This week’s Orthopaedic Center of Southern Illinois MVT–Most Valuable Teacher Award–goes to Mr. Jason James, the fifth grade science teacher at Du Quoin Middle School.
With DMS going full remote this week for the first time this school year, James and the rest of the teachers are trying to get the most out of their shortened classes.
“You go full remote, you only have about 20 minute classes,” James said. “You don’t get through all the material that you would normally get through in that day, so it kinda carries over to the next. You have to re-word it and try to keep yourself flowing in a good state there.”
With the classes in the morning, James and his fellow fifth grade teachers work together in the afternoon on future lessons. They also have extra time for students who may be needing some extra help.
“We have what we call office hours,” James said. “We’ll open up our office hours from 2-3, and if they’re struggling with homework at home or anything like that, they can pop on anytime between that two and three and get their questioned answered. Also, they can email us at home. It’s not like we’re not going to respond. As an educator, you’re gonna get back to them as soon as you can. You pop on Google Meets at home and talk with them there. So it’s been a lot different this year. A lot different”
Even when students are in-person, classes are different. James normally likes to have students work on group projects, but that can’t happen now.
“Just to have that different type of environment–we do a lot of Power Point stuff explaining things,” James said. “We still do a little bit of projects, but they’re individual instead of working with a group. The kids seem to like that when we’re able to do it. It’s odd for me to have to lecture the entire time, but we’re adapting. We’re doing the best we can with it.”
James also coaches multiple sports. He’s seen similar responses from the kids whether it’s on the field, on the court, or in the classroom.
“In sports, you show up, the kids are ready to go,” James said. “It was the same thing showing up here. They were ready to get themselves going, got the textbooks opened up. Most of the time you come in, you have to fight ’em to get the textbooks opened up. ‘C’mon, let’s go. Let’s get on task.’ They come in ‘What are we gonna do today? What are we learning today?’ They seem excited about.”
Aaron Hill, the principal at Du Quoin Middle School, had this to say about James. “Mr. James has an energy and excitement that students love,” Hill said. “He does an amazing job of communicating with students and engaging them in their daily lessons. He is the type of person that really loves his students and works all the time to be a better teacher.”
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