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  • - [Jeremy] Thanks everyone for getting started.

  • Hold on one moment, and we'll begin in about 10 minutes.

  • - [Woman] Begin.

  • - Okay everyone, this is Jeremy Schifeling

  • with Khan Academy.

  • Thank you so much for your patience

  • getting started this morning or this afternoon,

  • depending on where you're calling in from.

  • It is my extreme privilege to introduce you to Conor Corey.

  • He's one of the most awesome teachers

  • that I've met in a long, long time,

  • and just someone that I wish

  • was teaching my own kids

  • because of the incredible way

  • that he goes about engaging his own students.

  • So Conor, thank you so much for being with us today,

  • and thank you for sharing your expertise

  • with the larger Khan Academy community.

  • - [Conor] Thank you, it's been great to be here.

  • It's been a pleasure to be invited in.

  • - Absolutely, let me see

  • if I can get your webcam set up here.

  • Just go ahead and turn that on if you can.

  • All right, we're in business.

  • - All right. - So again,

  • thank you everyone, for making time out of the day.

  • I know, this is week two for many of us

  • as far as kids running around

  • while we're trying to serve our students.

  • Conor's in the same boat.

  • You have four kids, is that right, Conor?

  • - I do, and they are all at home.

  • My wife is distracting them in the other room right now,

  • and so if you hear screaming in the background,

  • that's coming from me.

  • - Well there you go.

  • That's the secret to being a great teacher

  • is having a very supportive spouse,

  • so thank you to her, and thank you to your kids

  • for letting us steal you away for about half an hour.

  • But I promise to make it super worthwhile

  • for everyone on the line,

  • and so I wanna start with a little bit

  • of your background as an educator.

  • Tell us a little bit about how long you've been teaching,

  • what you've been teaching, the students that you serve,

  • and then we'll go from there.

  • - This is my 17th year of teaching.

  • I spent the first 13 years of my career

  • teaching in the Philadelphia School District public schools.

  • We were on a contract issue.

  • For a few years, I went back to school

  • to go into administration,

  • and that's kind of really where I found my love

  • for curriculum and math, more than administration.

  • I, around my 14th year,

  • I took a job as a math interventionist,

  • which was kind of a new position

  • in Centennial School District,

  • but it was one that I thought was needed.

  • It was more of, every school has reading specialists

  • most of the time,

  • where students are pulled out

  • to rebuild a foundation for literacy,

  • but that foundation for math is sometimes skipped

  • as they go grade to grade,

  • so I was, for three years, I spent,

  • pulling students for small group instruction

  • to rebuild their mathematical foundation,

  • and then this year, I went back into the classroom

  • to teach middle school math,

  • which is a passion, obviously.

  • So I am back as a sixth grade math teacher this years.

  • - That's awesome, and tell us a little bit

  • about how you've been using Khan Academy.

  • - I've used Khan Academy for about 10 years now.

  • I think it came out of a need more than anything.

  • While in Philadelphia, as most large,

  • metropolitan school districts,

  • we're a little bit underfunded,

  • and some of the materials that we needed

  • were not available.

  • The class set of books was of 20,

  • but I had 34 students,

  • and they were kind of 10 years old.

  • So you had numerous wonderful pictures

  • drawn in by fifth graders over the 10 years

  • that resembled me sometimes.

  • But, so we had to find a way.

  • Also, most of my students weren't on level.

  • They were two years below level,

  • maybe some are a little bit advanced,

  • but getting that material

  • became red tape paperwork of,

  • well, maybe you have to fill this out

  • because we're gonna see if they're special education,

  • and it's, no, they're not special ed.,

  • they're just a little behind in fractions.

  • I just need the material.

  • Kahn Academy kind of gave me that for free,

  • and I was able to implement

  • almost a centers-based approach

  • like many literacy teachers already do

  • at the elementary level.

  • We kind of rotate our class each day in that way,

  • where I may teach one group of 10 students

  • on a third grade level if we're all working on geometry,

  • and then they'll rotate,

  • they'll work on Kahn Academy,

  • and then a project in the third station

  • that has to do with geometry,

  • but then the next group, it may be four grade,

  • and fifth grade after that,

  • and kind of try to hit their academic level overall

  • for each of them.

  • We may not get to the third grade student

  • on a third level to a sixth grade level that year,

  • but we will rebuild the foundation

  • so the vocabulary makes more sense

  • and they can strive further

  • rather than just kind of skipping along

  • and hope they pick it up.

  • - Very cool, so build those foundations

  • kind of like Tim Vandenberg

  • has been talking about in his Mastery Learning Webinar.

  • - Yes, and Tim, I share the same belief

  • as Tim most of the time.

  • We did many things of going back to kindergarten

  • and starting all the way over,

  • and it's doing fantastic.

  • - Very cool, and so, in the sense of the academic side,

  • I think one of the things that any follower

  • of your Twitter feed,

  • which I shared in the chat a second ago,

  • will notice is you really bring this joy

  • and this love of learning

  • to everything you do in the classroom

  • in normal times, in the best of times.

  • What are some of your most successful

  • engagement techniques for really getting your kids

  • excited about Kahn Academy,

  • and more importantly, just learning itself?

  • - I came to the belief a long time ago

  • that all kids, it doesn't matter your background

  • or where you're from,

  • they enjoy kind of embarrassing their teacher,

  • seeing their teacher look like an idiot,

  • doing things that they would not normally

  • be able to do in a school building,

  • and I figured attaching memories like that to my classroom

  • was always the best way.

  • I think it came about like,

  • it came out 10 years ago,

  • there before all the Fortnite dances

  • and everything like that.

  • There was a dance called the Wu-Tang

  • that all my students would just not stop doing,

  • and in the schoolyard, if you looked down at the schoolyard,

  • there's 200 kids in a circle dancing,

  • and one kid, he just walked by

  • and he sharpened his pencil and he started dancing,

  • and I was just kiddin' around and made fun of him,

  • I'm like, "That's it, that's all you got?

  • "You better practice before you go out to the schoolyard."

  • He started side, talkin' trash, he was like,

  • "You can't do it."

  • I'm like, "You were born in 2004.

  • "You don't know anything about Wu-Tang."

  • I'm like, "I got it."

  • Then they all wanted to see it,

  • and it was, "Okay, if you all get to 20%,

  • "I'll go out in the schoolyard and do it,"

  • and they loved it.

  • They worked so hard those next two weeks or so,

  • and then it kind of spiraled from there.

  • A kid had a water balloon in their desk one day and I,

  • the many reasons you wouldn't think

  • a kid would have a water balloon in his desk,

  • you almost had to stop and go,

  • what possessed you to think this is a good idea?

  • Then we started talkin' about,

  • "I'll let you throw water balloons at me

  • "if you guys get to 30%."

  • Those kind of memories, we just started doin' crazy stuff,

  • and I've worked with unbelievable staff

  • over the years that join in,

  • and we just try to get things

  • that they can't purchase, like certificates,

  • but more of memories that they wanna do.

  • - That's cool, and so what kinds of results

  • have you gotten with this approach,

  • like making yourself say,

  • "I'll do whatever it takes to get you to mastery?"

  • - I think you hit almost every angle of your students.

  • You have the introverted students

  • who may not wanna say they wanna study it,

  • and you have some of the, your most extroverted students

  • that are the ones screaming and always doing stuff.

  • You're getting all of them to work for a similar goal,

  • which is to embarrass you,

  • or even the other staff members.

  • We did one, you wouldn't believe.

  • When I was at Willow Dale for three years,

  • I had an unbelievable staff,

  • and one time we did a wheel,

  • it was called The Wheel of Doom,

  • and we put all the teachers names on it,

  • and they basically, whoever won LearnStorm

  • for that month, whoever had the highest growth,

  • that class came up, we made an assembly.

  • I had 16 teachers come up front

  • and sit there in chairs,

  • and they would spin this wheel,

  • and it would land on ketchup, mustard, mayonaise,

  • and they would just get to squirt it in the teacher's face,

  • and they had a blast

  • while 400 kids are in the audience

  • screaming and excited about math work they're doing.

  • So I think it was, things like that

  • just engage students more,

  • and whether they, the learning comes secondary.

  • It will always come

  • as long as they're excited about something.

  • - I love that.

  • So obviously, those are the best of times,

  • being their physically for The Wheel of Doom.

  • We are far from the best of times right now

  • as we chat, unfortunately.

  • What are you doing with your students today

  • to drive engagement in this remote learning environment?

  • What would you recommend from that toolbox of best practices

  • for everyone else listening right now?

  • - I mean, I'm going, I'm attempting,

  • always trying new things.

  • I'm attempting to do similar things

  • with just getting the students excited.

  • I think a lot of teachers are starting to run into

  • federal guidelines of online learning,

  • I think that's becoming a struggle,

  • but I've used Flipgrid throughout the year

  • to communicate, and now we're using kind of Zoom meetings

  • to see, just to get in touch with your students

  • and do things, not work that's required,

  • but voluntary for something to do.

  • Your students miss you, they do.

  • I miss them, and right now,

  • we're doing a TikTok challenge