Facing the Crisis with Courage and Creativity

How One Quaver Teacher is Bringing Distance Teaching to Life

by Kristin Clark Taylor

“We Made it Work.”

Yep, these words ring true in every sense of the word: Jim Meske, a music coordinator for Mannheim District 83 in Illinois and a K-5 general music teacher at Westdale School, knew something had to be done – and done quickly – as the Coronavirus swept the nation and shut down all of the schools.

A teacher for 22 years and no stranger to crisis, even Meske himself admits that he’d never encountered anything like this. But he was not to be daunted. If anything, the challenge spurred him into action.  And Meske made it work.

Jump.

With the entire student body now at home, Meske and music team slipped quickly into distance-teaching mode, pushing the school to new limits, creating a district log-in and password, and doing everything in their power to make sure that the students were still receiving the instruction they needed and deserved.

Meske is a man who knows how to jump into action – especially when his students are at risk or in need. And jump he did:

When the schools closed, he says, it created obvious and immediate problems, not just with teaching but with providing access to teaching resources – so he and his music team figured out a way to distribute access instructions (using a general QuaverName) that their students could use from home.

“Fortunately for us,” Meske says, “We already had the full Quaver program in our district before this crisis hit.”

Mr. Meske and his Quaverized classroom!

Meske considers himself lucky to have already been thoroughly familiar with the Quaver curriculum and completely comfortable with all of the technological tools the program provides. But there still was a hiccup:

“Unfortunately, we didn’t have usernames for our younger students. We had them for the older kids, but not the younger ones (K-1).”

When the district, searching for different ways to create at-home learning alternatives, asked Meske and his colleagues to create a series of daily 20-minute, music-related learning activities, the veteran teacher says he knew just where to turn:

He Turned to Quaver.

“Our challenge was that we didn’t have usernames for every, single student, so instead of running around and creating new ones and figuring out how to distribute them to each student, we used Quaver’s ‘Music at Home Master Class 2020’ program.” The program provides easy-access solutions to schools closed during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Everybody worked together on this. We created a District log-in using a very simple password, so that students could then gain access to the assignments and the student interactives were already provided by Quaver.”

Meske says that it was (and is) Quaver’s simple, state-of-the-art, cloud-based technology that’s helping his students learn from home.

“Thanks to Quaver, learning is still happening — even in the midst of this crisis. Quaver is providing the tools and the resources to help get us through this. They are here for us.”

Keeping it Simple, Keeping it Fun.

“We created a letter that went out to all of our families, in English and in Spanish, and we provided them with ‘Music Bingo’ cards. The thought was that each day the students could select one activity a day from these Music Bingo cards – writing their name in SongBrush, for instance, or any of the other many Quaver activities.”

“Three of the activities include the Quaver Songs of the Month (which are also featured on YouTube, which means that every students can get access. Everybody knows how to access YouTube, right?”

Teamwork Is Tantamount.

“We are all pulling together to make this work,” says Meske of his work with his fellow colleagues.  “It’s definitely an ongoing, collective effort, with everybody pitching in. In fact, none of this would have been possible without the amazing efforts of the entire music team.”

Teamwork like this, he says, is mandatory – particularly when crisis comes. “We even had a translator come in to translate the Bingo cards and to make sure we were being accurate and representative. We want to make sure we are meeting each student wherever they are. This is what it’s all about.”

Kudos to Quaver!

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Kristin Clark Taylor is an award-winning author, journalist, and former White House communications strategist.