VRE Teachers Build Relationships with Picture Signs

Dopple Stars Though the 2020-2021 school year began virtually, Valley Ranch Elementary third grade teachers have developed a creative way to see their students’ faces in the classroom, while the learners were at home. 

Seats in the empty third grade classrooms of third grade teachers Nadya Gulam, Clare Skertchly, Brooke Blake and Jillian Schroyer at Valley Ranch have cardboard pictures of the students in each class arranged in table groups.  Similar to the “Dopple Rangers” fans signs at Texas Rangers’ games, these “Dopple Stars,” Stars being the mascot of Valley Ranch Elementary,  have helped the third grade teachers classrooms feel more welcoming and alive. 

“We wanted to make our learners feel like they were part of their classroom while they were learning from home,”  Gulam said. “This also has helped us build our relationships with our students,  because we can learn their names and faces and feel like we are teaching to a class full of eager learners while on a Zoom call.” 

According to Schroyer, when the students saw  their pictures in the classroom on the first day of school, they were amazed. 

“We could show them that they were in their seats and ready to learn, which helped them feel really special and like they were truly a part of our third grade family,” said Blake. “The students could really envision themselves as a part of the space and working with their tablemates.” 

Gulam said delivering instruction virtually is one of the toughest challenges she has faced in her teaching career. She makes it a priority every year to get to  know her learners and build on their strengths. This year, she wants her students to be safe and feel part of the Valley Ranch Stars Family. 

“Our students are the best part of our day, and it has been so amazing to come to the classroom every morning and see their smiling faces,” Skertchly  said.  “These ‘pictures’ help remind us why we as teachers come to school every day, which is because of the children we teach and serve.”