A Sumner High School teacher’s effort to make exam week more fun and relaxing went viral in December 2022.
AVID teacher Yolanda Turner hosted an impromptu dance-off in the cafeteria for her students in a video posted by Natalie McClain, assistant principal. Since the initial post on Twitter on December 23, 2022, the video of Turner has been viewed over 1.7 million times.
“It’s my personality. It’s who I am. There’s really no blueprint. I have a heart: my students. They drive the engagement. They’ve told me that they vibe off of my energy, and I do the same. It’s truly authentic engagement,” said Turner about the way she teaches and encourages her students.
Turner received an outpouring of love for the video with parents and students. Many have said they wished they had teachers like Turner when they were students. Others have said seeing the human side of teachers is the best part of teaching.
One Instagram user, Andrea Kelly, said, “This is such a hard age to connect with and there you are, rocking it out.”
Turner said she is still processing the motivating responses and is appreciative of the response she has received.
“I remember my fifth grade teachers Mrs. Tomlinson and Mrs. Carter from Kingswood Elementary School in Brandon, FL. Our classroom was very engaging and interactive,” recalled Turner. “… I often use these strategies in my own classroom while facilitating the lessons. It helps the students process complex information in an engaging way.”
Even after exam season, Turner continues to encourage her approximately 150 AVID College and Career students. In addition to academic support, she offered a few suggestions for students dealing with stress during the school year.
“I would also encourage students to use positive self-talk as an intrinsic motivator. I have a mirror hanging in my classroom bordered by positive messages. The idea is for students to look at themselves and say the messages. Doing this helps build their confidence,” advised Turner.
Turner also tries to use phrases familiar to students and some of her own to encourage her students to do their personal best. By keeping her classroom fun and lighthearted, she manages to keep students engaged and allows them to express themselves in a safe space.