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Guilford County teacher takes 'flatter' approach to connect with students during remote learning

A fourth grade teacher at Reedy Fork Elementary is making sure his class feels like they're all together and he's putting an old school spin on a new way of school.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Day three of virtual school is done and dusted across many Triad districts  and as students and parents settle into this new normal, it's clear that an in-person connection is missing. But a fourth grade teacher at Reedy Fork Elementary is making sure his class feels like they're all together and he's putting an old school spin on a new way of school.

"Mr. Crouse has scheduled a few zoom meetings and team meetings in the mornings for all of the students in the class to try to get together and interact," Kristin Forbes said.

Her daughter McKenzie's school year started much different than she expected, sitting in front of computer screens instead of in a classroom.

"We're doing good we've got a routine going," she said. "It's helped us stay on top of everything we've been able to get in without any issues and get our work done."

Still, it's just not the same. Rodney Crouse, McKenzie's teacher, agrees.

"Even though I'm not in front of them teaching I still want to build relationships with them. I still want to check in with them and beyond that, I want to connect with the families because education has already been about a team, the teachers and the parents working together," Crouse said.

This year he's taking a flatter approach to teaching. Every student in Mr. Crouse's fourth grade class has their own, cartoon version of their new teacher.

"The families may be tired of my Bitmoji because they get one every day in a different pose with a different saying," Crouse said. "But you know, it's important for me to know what's going on."

Crouse says this "Flat Teacher" idea is a way for him to connect with his students and their parents in a year where connectivity is more important than ever. Between Zoom meetings and virtual lessons it's nice for students to have a version of their teacher by their side. 

He even created resources for other teachers to use to connect with their students during this unprecedented time. He says it's going to take everyone working together and a lot of kindness to have a successful school year. 

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