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Staying Connected During COVID-19 [Teacher Spotlight]: Will Cooke


In partnership with eSchool News, Illuminate Education is spotlighting teachers in a series recognizing educators, the way they have moved instruction online during COVID-19, and how they have prioritized the needs of their students.

Will Cooke
High School Choir Director
Charlottesville High School
Charlottesville City Schools, VA

“Right now, connecting is absolutely the most important thing we can do.”

How have the school closures impacted your day-to-day work with students?

The biggest impact is of course that we can no longer hold classes as we used to. The only way we can all get together is via Zoom. When we started remote learning, I was getting hit with an avalanche of suggestions using virtual choirs as an example of a way to keep our classes going. Those virtual choirs are more of a technological creation rather than the creation of a musical community found in an actual choir classroom. Virtual choirs are best created by advanced or professional singers who are comfortable singing alone. They aren’t great for actual choral instruction.

Related content: How a middle school science teacher tackles remote learning

How are you moving to a remote learning model?

Like most districts, we are making it up as we go because no one really was prepared for this. For the past two weeks, we’ve been using a review format—going over what we’ve already covered. Moving forward, we are going to take this opportunity to work on individual practice exercises that we haven’t had the time to work on before. So, shifting away from the ensemble work that we usually would focus on.

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