When Pastor Bernardo Sámano, religion and Spanish teacher at Calexico Mission School, first started delivering instruction online, it didn’t take him long to make up his mind about Zoom.
“This has not been a nice, pleasant experience for anybody,” he said. “We thought we knew everything, but we really know nothing. It’s hard to engage people through a really small camera and know that they’re paying attention and engaged.”
Then an idea came to his mind. He decided to start a radio talk show to engage his students. First, Sámano got a greenscreen to place behind him. He designed a background that looked like a studio, and then found an upbeat instrumental song he could play as students join the class. He starts by welcoming everyone to XEKJ radio, La Voz de la Guajolota.
“The first time, I remember they were shocked!” Sámano said with a laugh. When students talk to him, he picks up his phone to engage the student “calling in.” Students can request special songs, which Sámano says connects the class as well.
“We had a workshop where we were told students are coming to class online with stress, so we need to make this experience of connecting with the teacher a pleasant experience,” Sámano shared.