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‘You’ve got to know your kids’ – How one high school teacher used Snapchat to get her class ready for remote learning

Editor’s note: This article features Myra Morgan and her daughter, Taylor Morgan. Because they share one last name, we will be identifying them with their first names throughout this article.

Myra Morgan has been a teacher for more than 20 years and currently works at McDowell High School. Throughout her career, she’s done a little bit of everything to meet the changing needs of her students. Recently, she found herself doing something she never considered to connect with her class — getting on Snapchat.

I interviewed Myra to hear more about how she’s turned her living room into her classroom and found creative ways to interact with her students during this time. Listen to the interview here:

I also talked with her daughter, Taylor Morgan, who is a current senior and student body president at McDowell High.

Meeting students where they are 

When Gov. Cooper issued an executive order instructing schools to close on March 16, for many teachers, remote instruction was uncharted territory. Myra found herself in that position. 

“I was scared to death to do our Facebook Live,” she said. “I thought maybe I can do this. I can do this. Okay, I’ve got this. So the first day I was sweating. It was like a workout. I got through it. And it was like, OK, that wasn’t that bad.”

McDowell High began using tools such as Facebook Live, Google Classroom, and Zoom to teach to their students.

Myra was told she should meet students where they are. She’s made it her mission to do just that. However, as she began to adjust to remote teaching, she noticed that her students weren’t very responsive over email. 

Myra decided to use Snapchat to get her students ready for online classes, which started this week. After getting on the platform with help from Taylor, Myra discovered that one of her students didn’t have access to the internet and needed to do her work via paper packet instead.

“Another student, his mom was in the hospital. And I’m not sure we would have known that. But during this time, it’s harder to get information from the kids. So when I went to Instagram, nobody was replying. Twitter, nobody replying. The thing is, I pull up Snapchat, they’re all talking a mile a minute,” said Myra. “You’ve got to know your kids.”

“They don’t go to their emails first. They go to Snapchat first. The thing is, I tell them, check your email [via Snapchat], and boom, they’re on it. They’re checking it immediately,” she said.

Myra Morgan using Snapchat to reach her students. Courtesy of Myra Morgan

Becoming an advocate

Learning these virtual tools is just one of the challenges Myra is facing. In addition to being a teacher, she’s also a mom. 

“All of the sudden, now I’m the expert, and I’ve got to lead and guide them through this,” Myra said.

Her oldest daughter, Taylor, is a senior in high school, and her younger daughter Josie is a freshman. 

“When they first told us about the online virtual thing. I was kind of like, ‘It won’t be too bad,’ but now actually experiencing it, it’s not really easy. It’s kind of hard,” Taylor said. “It’s also hard experiencing this by myself and not like having my friends around me and making all the memories that I typically would at school or having those people to hang around. … It’s a very lonely, lonely experience.”

As McDowell High School’s student body president, Taylor has her classmates’ well-being on her mind as well. What are her peers thinking about? Prom and graduation are the topics she’s hearing about the most.

Taylor Morgan, McDowell High School student body president, at a basketball game earlier this year. Courtesy of Taylor Morgan

“I don’t care if we have to do it in September, I want to have a graduation,” Taylor said. “They [her peers] definitely feel like they should walk across the stage. They said they didn’t work this hard to get emailed their diploma. That was what one person said.”

Taylor, who said she’s interested in becoming a teacher herself, is maintaining a positive attitude and trying to focus on the big goal ahead.

“Graduation keeps on pushing me to do the work,” she said.

For Myra, the whole experience has inspired her to consider how her classroom will look once life gets back to normal.

“I was even thinking, you know, after this is over and we’re back to a normal routine and schedule at school,” she said. “I was like, the way I’m doing things now, I want to incorporate that later. You know, in my class. I want to keep things going.”

Hope Starts Here

Welcome to Hope Starts Here – a podcast produced by I’m Alli Lindenberg, EdNC’s multimedia reporter. I’ll be hosting and producing this podcast — and can’t wait to share moments of hope with you. I started this show as a response to the overwhelming stress news can cause during times of crisis. We need to stay informed, but we also need to take care of ourselves mentally and emotionally. I’m hoping this show will do just that.