#parent | #kids | Alhambra second-grade teacher Krystal Tran a perfect fit for distance-learning – Pasadena Star News

Krystal Tran, a second-grade teacher at Ramona Elementary in Alhambra, has her hands full. But one would never know that judging by the positive and joyful way she conducts her classes virtually from her Temple City home, a necessity because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tran has sons aged 9 (Dean) and 11 (Benjamin). They are in San Gabriel Unified School District and do their distance-learning from home while mom teaches a group of 7-year-olds who, understandably, at times have issues staying focused. Tran’s husband, Tuoi, is a principal in the SGUSD, but he goes to work and is not around to assist.

From 8 a.m., Tran is on her own. Once done with her 4-hour class via Zoom, she lets her students know which of them she’ll want to speak with privately afterward for some one-on-one help. So her day continues.

She disciplines in a firm, yet soft, manner. Halfway through a video she was showing, she stopped it to give those slouching in their seats a gentle reminder. They comply.

“I see more of you are sitting up straight. I appreciate that,” she says. Tran teaches from her kitchen counter, and she stands.

Positive reinforcement was prevalent throughout the class.

“It’s human,” Tran said. “Even as an adult, I feel happy when people compliment me. Even though we’re older, if you give me a sticker, I still feel happy because I did something right. So, same for children.”

Tran rewards her students when they engage.

“They get extra points when they volunteer to participate,” Tran said. “I give them bonus points and every two weeks I meet them at the school and give them little treats that they want. It’s very important to remind them they are doing great, so they continue to do it.”

Starting the day

It was Friday morning, and Tran welcomed her students. They returned the greeting.

“Good morning, Ms. Tran. Happy Friday,” one said.

The pledge of allegiance takes place on an animated app — one of many apps Tran uses — and then there is a sing-along to get kids going.

On this day, there was a lot of messages being sent out by the students.

“There is smoke up in the sky,” one wrote.

Eventually, Tran reminds them that if they want to chat, they should only chat with her during instruction.

The class continues. She lauds one student.

“Thank you, Mason, you’re doing a good job.”

First up was reading. Then there was a short break, during which the kids got in some exercise via an app called The Body Coach. Tran joined in the fun. Upon returning, she took her students through breathing exercises before resuming class.

Breaking for recess, Tran reminds her students they can black out their screens and that if they stay on, they can talk to each other, but “be kind and respectful.”

Math time was 10:30 a.m., then there was art class and PE, which lasted about 20 minutes.

All the while, it was easy to see that some students were more engaged than others. Some even left their seats for a moment. Others yawned. But for the most part, Tran had her students’ attention.

She’s learned along the way after a rough start that saw her speak to these 7-year-olds for an hour without a break on day 1 about four weeks ago. She used to be able to do that with her middle-school students, having taught at that level for 16 years before changing to second-grade this year.

“I talked all the way for a whole hour until a parent jumped in and said, ‘Ms. Tran, my daughter’s a good student, but she can’t handle this,’” Tran recalled. “I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, that’s true.’

“So each day I improve a little bit based on parents’ feedback and what I observe from my students.”

Beatriz Salas’ daughter Dahlia is in Tran’s class. She can’t praise her enough.

“What I like about the way Mrs. Tran conducts her distance-learning class is how well organized and prepared she comes every day to teach her class,” Salas said. “She has daily presentations for the kids and parents to view the class work for the day, or in case the kids get disconnected, they could still do the work.

“She is always engaged and very patient with all her students. She encourages student participation where the kids can collect points and earn goodies.”

Salas went on, also admitting it has been a challenge keeping her daughter in her seat and engaged, but that she’s improving.

Not all good

As impressive as Tran appears to be in teaching little ones, she knows distance-learning is not the best thing for them. In her mind, her students are learning less than if they were in class at Ramona.


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