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I’ve been waiting…and the day finally arrived! As I fired up my computer one morning last week, I grabbed a warm drink, cuddled into a soft chair, and kicked up my feet for…Coffeehouse! 

Once every nine weeks, Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy (OVCA) middle school music and art teacher Erin Goodridge coordinates and emcees a virtual “coffeehouse” for her music students, their learning coaches, and OVCA staff. As attendees enter the virtual classroom, they are greeted with the appropriate coffeehouse ambiance of background chat sounds and a red curtain announcing individual performances.  

Prior to the first performance, attendees actively discuss appropriate behavior and the expectation to support one another’s talents. After each performance, attendees are allowed to send positive feedback to the performer via chat box; it is truly heartwarming to see the insightful and uplifting comments from the students! 

This particular morning, students sang and played a variety of musical instruments, including a recorder and guitar. The virtual classroom allowed the flexibility for two sisters to perform together, despite being from different schools (elementary and middle school). Another student performed to her karaoke machine via webcam. In the past, students and teachers have prerecorded performances that were played during the event. The options are endless, and there is always a surprise guest performance. 

Students that wish to perform at the event submit an application to Mrs. Goodridge a few weeks prior, so she can preview songs and lyrics. Altogether, she spends a couple of hours preparing for each event. 

As a teacher in a virtual audience, I am able to focus on the performances, rather than the behavior of attendees. And there are no uncomfortable chairs, hot auditoriums, malfunctioning sound systems, or unruly spectators; it’s a win-win for everyone. I’m already looking forward to the next Coffeehouse in December! 

About The Author

Beth Watt

Beth Watt teaches sixth grade math at Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy (OVCA). Prior to joining OVCA in 2012, she taught science and math in the Stillwater, Tulsa, and Putnam City school districts. She holds bachelor’s degrees in zoology and secondary science education, and a master’s degree in K-12 education. Beth and her husband live near Stillwater, Oklahoma, with their two boxer dogs. She loves cooking, disc golfing, teaching Zumba, and hiking outdoors.

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