What is the COVID plan for teachers
Now that winter has closed in, we have been met with a new wave of COVID-19 cases as well as 5 weeks of school wide quarantine. This is of course not ideal for teachers or students but there might be a silver lining. If we compare it to the first quarantine last march, we have more experience than ever when it comes to teaching and learning digitally. Although that doesn’t mean that this quarantine does come with strings attached. For a variety of reasons, this quarantine could have greater positives but also lower negatives.
“Theoretically, when you’ve done something already, you should be able to do it better the second time,” said senior english teacher Kristofor Sauer. “The daily battle is to balance high expectations with practicality and understanding.”
But how is this quarantine different from the last? A useful tool teachers have now come in the form of time. Teachers have had time to prepare and optimise lessons for online learning.
Orchestra and concert band teacher Diane Hallberg said “I spent hours attending webinars, seminars, things over the summer because it’s on the mind of every educator. There’s always a plan A and a plan B in my head for just about anything I’ve done this year.”
Another improvement that’s come with extra time, as well as more support from school, is the greater amount of options teachers have to teach online through. Padlet and Pear Deck are just two examples of applications that teachers have been using to teach. Even though those apps were available last year, teachers did not have the time to implement them into their lessons like they have this year.
The experience gained from teaching online last year has also been vital to improving this year. “[learning] will be more targeted now cause we have ideas about ‘hey this works, people like this,’” said senior english teacher Kristofor Sauer.
Teachers have a much better idea now about what parts of in person learning work online and which parts don’t. Using english class as an example, reading quizzes that people can complete more individually may work well but a graded discussion where people need to be more present may not. Teachers also found that there were parts of the learning experience that can be enhanced when you don’t need physical presence. For example, Theatre Director, Film & Photography Teacher, Nicholas Freeman invited theater industry professionals to his Theatre class last year to talk about what they do and don’t do during a pandemic.
“Those kinds of opportunities were easier to make happen over a zoom call than inviting someone into a classroom,” said Freeman.
In all, the extra time for prep and the past experience are shaping this online learning period to be better than the last, for teachers and students.
“I think this distance learning is a lot more structured,” said junior Dori Hobbie. “The learning quality is so much better.”
But even with the improvements, there are still factors to be considered, some of which were not present back in March. During the first quarantine as spring went into summer, it allowed people to easily go outside. Now that we are very much into winter, being active may not be as spontaneous as it has been before.
Sauer spoke on this with his own experience saying, “I know that there’s a lot of students here who very much enjoyed the opportunity in a normal year… to go to that weight room and blow off steam… there’s a multitude of benefits there that may or may not be available for everyone now, compared to last spring.”
Beside the challenges that come with the time of year, the fact that you aren’t seeing other students still remains. For some this is less ideal “Talking to people through a zoom call is so much harder for me and I have to try harder to stay involved,” said Hobbie. For others it can be more optimal. Freeman said when speaking about asking his class how they were doing, “There were a handful of students that said, as an extreme introvert, this is actually awesome, this is preferred.”
No matter teacher or student, we all need to try our best in this not so normal situation.