4 min read
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there are no more creative people in this world than teachers. Especially during pandemic time, when many of us may have taken a bit of a break to get our footing with this virtual world, teachers could not. Their jobs have never been easy, but COVID forced them to take even more onto their plates.
A reason why I have such a deep appreciation for educators is that I was fortunate to have been surrounded by brilliant, funny, caring, encouraging, passionate teachers growing up. One teacher that had a massive impact on my intellectual curiosity, empathy, and creativity is Mrs. Roxanne Feldman. And, funny enough, approximately 17 years after I first walked into her library, she is now one of Toucan’s biggest Superhosts.
Whenever I want to learn something new and cool about my own platform, I go to Mrs. Feldman. Ever since she got on Toucan late last summer, she has been coming up with inventive ways to engage her students virtually. For the past few months, she has been hosting “Toucan Tuesday” with the students in her homeroom to give them regular social interaction - a space to just hang out and have fun.
She loves that she can let her students socialize with each other without her being actively present in their groups. Because of Toucan’s speech rings, she can keep tabs on who is talking, if one person is talking more than others, and if a group’s energy is low. When she sees that a group may benefit from a bit of facilitation, she pops in and chats with them. And sometimes her students need a bit of alone time to finish an assignment or take a break; and that’s totally fine. On Toucan, you can socialize on your own terms, which suits all students’ comfort zones.
During Toucan Tuesday, students do a variety of activities. Mrs. Feldman and her students love collaborative games and projects. Skribbl.io is a favorite - where students take turns drawing and guessing different images. A new one that Mrs. Feldman introduced me to is Aggie.io - an online painting program, where multiple people can work on the same piece at the same time. She has her students split into groups on Toucan, each group chooses a picture to draw, and they divide that picture into equal parts. Each member of the group paints one section of the picture, and they end up with a masterpiece!
Mrs. Feldman’s favorite part about Toucan is her perpetual space. She is one of a small handful of people both inside and outside our company that has a special space that is open 24/7, so she can host whomever she’d like on Toucan whenever she’d like - all by using the same link. She’s helping our team test this feature (it’s coming soon). She loves having her own home base within our platform that she can customize and call her own. Plus, she gives her link to her friends, so they can access it on their own when they need to rendezvous. It’s the perfect informal meeting place. Plus, it’s fun!
Attending school online is challenging, especially if you are in middle or high school. Socializing with others is actually a huge part of students’ educational experiences, and that has fallen to the wayside at a lot of schools. Mrs. Feldman is actively working to buck that trend. The world is lucky to have people like Mrs. Feldman out there, constantly thinking of creative ways to make children’s lives a little brighter.
Let us know if you’re interested in a perpetual space by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll let you know when the feature is available.
Antonia Hellman is a co-founder and CEO of Toucan.
She is a senior at Stanford University studying political science, economics, and management science & engineering.
Prior to Toucan, her career experience has been in data science and political campaigning.
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