Mme Nahal et Ses Amies Facebook Group “A Fly on the Classroom Wall”
Nahal Derayeh, better known to parents and children as Madame Nahal, is a French kindergarten teacher at Dante Elementary School in St. Léonard who has been teaching at the English Montreal School Board for 18 years. Over the past four years she has been innovatively integrating technology into her teaching. By using YouTube videos she records of herself in the classroom and a private Facebook group called “Mme Nahal et Ses Amies,” she manages to stay connected to parents and children in and out of the classroom. To see the private group click here.
It started four years ago when Mme Nahal attended an EMSB workshop to learn new skills on how to integrate technology into her teaching because she felt that she was not “tech savvy.” She said she was inspired to use the Facebook medium to communicate with parents because that is what she uses to feel close to her friends and family. So far, she never had a parent who did not want to participate, and her Facebook groups have been a huge success, increasing her popularity with parents and students alike.
Mme Nahal stated in an interview: “As a working mom of four children, I always wanted to see what is going on when my children are at school, wishing I could be a “fly on the wall. I felt like I was missing an important part of their life because they spend so much time at school. I saw a Facebook group as an opportunity to help parents feel connected with their children even when they are at school and to help parents and children with homework.”
According to Mme Nahal, teamwork between parents and teachers are key to educational success. While teaching, she uses her personal iPhone that her husband gave her as a gift to take pictures of the children performing various activities in the classroom and posts them on her private Facebook group that she shares with parents. She sends reminders to parents and any important information parents may need right away like changes in schedules, or reminders like picking up their children’s blanket at the end of the week. Mme Nahal also posts videos of herself reviewing concepts that that were taught in school that children can use when doing homework to review what they learned at school. She also records herself singing songs like the days of the week and uses hand muppets to tell stories. She thinks that a big advantage of using videos is that they can be watched over and over again and paused at any time so that children can learn at their own pace.
Mme Nahal believes that to get the full learning experience, children need to practice what they learn at school while at home. She maintains that learning capsule videos are an effective tool to review new concepts. Although many learning capsule videos recorded by random teachers are available online, Mme Nahal prefers to record her own videos to make her students feel special and cared for by their teacher. It is extra work that she does on her own time, but she told us that she feels so rewarded when after posting a video of a song, her students come in the next day having memorized it.
Mme Nahal also told us that with the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers are finding ways to reinvent themselves and gave us a personal example. She observed that students seem to have a harder time understanding her because they cannot see her mouth when she is speaking with her mask on. To give the kids a break from this, she records videos of herself reading stories without a mask on YouTube and then projects the videos on the classroom’s smart board using the classroom laptop or tablet. Her YouTube video “Pat le chat.. j’adore aller à l’école..” which is a self-recording of her reading this popular story boasts 997 views as of this writing. Mme Nahal feels it is important for her to post French storytelling videos on her YouTube channel and Facebook group to expose her students to French outside of the classroom because many families do not speak French at home.
Mme Nahal also uses the imovie app on her iphone to create very professional looking videos such as a Halloween movie of her kindergarten class and a “Welcome to Dante” orientation video to promote the school’s kindergarten. She feels very rewarded by the gratitude expressed by parents and students and for the support of staff and the school administration. Her kindergarten orientation video is posted on Dante’s Facebook page at the time of registration and plays on a big screen television at Dante’s front desk office.
Mme Nahal’s next project after COVID-19 is to make more ivideos in class, but this time she would like to involve the students in the production by having them take pictures for the imovie with the school ipad.
To see her YouTube videos including the imovies click here.