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COMIC: How One Math Teacher Broke Through To Her Virtual Students

It's been a year since teachers were handed an unprecedented request: educate students in entirely new ways amid the backdrop of a pandemic. In this comic series, we'll illustrate one teacher's story each week from now until the end of the school year.

Episode 1

Jessica Peacock — on what success has meant for her while teaching virtually during the pandemic

Sixth-grade math, Raleigh, N.C.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

So, I am kind of a comedian. I'm a fun teacher. I get a lot of energy from the crowd. This has been rough.
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The kids weren't turning on their cameras, their mics. Forty or so students, but there was just ... nothing. Little boxes with their names in them.
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So it had been about nine weeks of this, and I was mentally, physically and emotionally broken. I was tired — a different type of tired — at the end of the day.
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I went to Chick-fil-A with another teacher, and we just ... cried in the parking lot.
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And so I broke down in front of the kids — these sixth-graders I had never met, some of them I had never even heard their voices — and I said, "You know, y'all, it really feels like I'm teaching in an aquarium!"
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"It's like, you can look at the fish, you can talk to them, but they're just gonna do what they do!"
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And as soon as I said that, it was — Pop! Pop! Pop! The cameras started turning on. And they were giggling. And I'm like ... "Yes! Yes! Thank you! I didn't know what you looked like! Did you have glasses? Or purple hair?!"
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So really it was me modeling that vulnerability that I usually don't have to when we're face-to-face.
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And now there are days where I hear from every student more than once. That is success to me. The End.
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