Virtual Teacher Interview: Kindergarten, Atlanta

I have SUCH a great interview for you today! We’re hearing from Khalia Murray, of Ms. Murray’s Corner, today. I met Khalia through our grad school network (the Relay Graduate School of Education, which has campuses all over the country). She’s a kindergarten teacher in Atlanta, Georgia.



Can you even imagine!? Well, if you check out her awesome YouTube videos, you’ll see why she was able to do such a great job with her kids this spring.

Julia: Tell me about your school and your role. What are the demographics of your school? How many students do you have? How many staff? What grades do you teach? What subjects? How long have you been there?

Khalia: Hello everyone! My name is Khalia Murray and I am a Kindergarten Teacher in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve been an Educator for five years but this is my first year at my current school. I had the pleasure of having a co-teacher this year. This was her first year as an Educator so it was amazing being able to participate in her journey. We had 28 students in our class , however by the end of year had 25. The demographic of my school is about 95% African American, 4% Hispanic, and 1% Other. There are about 500 students and 60 staff members.

Julia: In what ways was your school prepared for distance learning?

Khalia: In my opinion, I don’t believe any school system was truly prepared for distance learning, however we did take some efforts to get prepared. When the pandemic first hit, my school, like many others, thought we’d be out for about two weeks. So we sent students home with their logins for online applications we use and created distance learning packets. The two weeks we planned for turned into about two and a half months.

Julia: In what ways was your school unprepared for distance learning?

Khalia: We were unprepared for distance learning, due to the fact that we did not send students home with chromebooks immediately. We had to prepare for that in terms of setting up, picking up, as well as troubleshooting. Some of our students also did not have internet access which made it difficult to complete their assignments. However once we made the transition to distributing chromebooks, the distance learning experience went way smoother.

Julia: What does your typical school day and week look like now?

Khalia: My typical school week now looks vastly different from the regular school year. Monday – Friday I have Morning Huddle at 9 am and hold office hours for my class from 11:00-11:30 am. On Tuesday, I have a Content Meeting where I discuss what standards and concepts I will use to create my videos for the upcoming week. On Thursday I have  a Whole School Staff Meeting for about an hour. On Fridays, each grade level hosts a Virtual Happy Hour to try to create a sense of normalcy and continue the family atmosphere that we had within the school year. 

Julia: What platform do you use to teach (Zoom, Google Classroom, etc.)? What are the pros and cons of that platform?

Khalia: My school currently uses Google Classroom to post pre-recorded videos. Each grade level has a Morning Huddle via Zoom daily. Morning Huddle gives us a sense of community and gives the students the opportunity to see all their friends and teachers. We began using Google Meets for our Morning Huddles but found difficulty with that platform due to the lack of Gallery View. My hope is that for the fall we begin instruction using live lessons to keep students more engaged. I was finding that as the weeks went by the view times were getting shorter and shorter.

Julia: What’s the funniest thing that happened so far during distance learning?

Khalia: As you know, in Kindergarten there is never a dull moment. By far the funniest thing is when a student came to our Morning Huddle shirtless. I immediately had to call his mom and ask him to please put a shirt on 🙂

Julia: How do you think kids are handling this time emotionally? What should other teachers and schools prioritize?

Khalia: At this time, I do not think that young children understand the magnitude of what is truly occurring. They are just missing their friends and teachers. However older students, those in middle and high school, are affected by this drastically. This pandemic will ultimately lead to their college experience as well. I believe that teachers and schools should prioritize the social-emotional well being of students during this time. We should have frequent check ins with students individually to see how they are coping with all of this.

Julia: What do you think will happen in the fall? Is full-time distance learning the future of education?

Khalia: I am pretty anxious about what is to come. I do not think that every state will have a streamlined plan. My school has announced that we will be 100% virtual until October and then re-evaluate. I believe this is the best and safest option at this time. However I am fearful of the gaps that we will have to close and well as their limited socialization with other students.

Hearing from Khalia this week really put distance learning and the uncertainty of the fall in perspective for me. There are many similarities between her experience with kindergarteners in the South-East U.S. and mine with 12th graders in the North-West.

Yes, school is about standards and content, but honestly it’s equal parts that and social-emotional learning. Kids (and teachers!) need community and want to feel the sense of connection they usually get from school. I do believe this is possible with distance learning, we just have to be more creative. I’m so glad Khalia was able to hold a Morning Huddle live each morning with her students. I think all schools should prioritize this live/synchronous component.

I’m also relieved to hear that Khalia’s school is staying 100% virtual for the time-being. As much as students and teachers prefer in-person it is just not safe at the moment. It makes me think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

School provides all of these, but with some schools opening in the fall, they’re essentially skipping the green “safety needs” section in favor of the higher ones. I think before jumping to the conclusion that in-person school is the way to go, we should think outside the box and take inspiration from creative, dedicated teachers, like Khalia.

I hope you enjoyed hearing from Khalia! The pandemic inspired Khalia to create her own Virtual Tutoring Services as well as a Youtube channel, both named, Ms. Murray’s Corner. Check them out here: She also has an interview with a parent about her experience with Virtual Learning.

Feeling inspired,


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