After the pandemic closed down all schools in March, teachers all around the country scrambled to adjust to virtual classrooms and new ways of teaching. Fourth quarter last year consisted of classes three days a week, each class thirty minutes long with assignments sent out throughout the week. With everyone in such disarray at the time, it seemed like everyone was just waiting for summer, and the fourth quarter wasn’t getting as much focus as prior school seen by blank screens of turned off cameras and empty classrooms.
As the news came that schools would start out virtually in the Fall, teachers began preparing over the summer to teach online. Teachers face new challenges of having limited access to their students, meaning they have less engagement with them.
AP Calculus AB teacher and Math Competition Coach Mr. Daniel Ariew bases his teaching methods on student engagement, thus, making this year less than the ideal situation. “I certainly miss the back-and-forth with the students and the laughs we have in class,” Mr. Ariew said. “The hardest part for me is not having as much feedback in knowing exactly what students are understanding in my class. When in-person, you can sorta just tell who understands and who does not, but online it’s far more difficult to discern.”
Architecture and CAD Design teacher, Mr. Jonathan Reid faces similar challenges as Mr. Ariew in that it’s now hard for him to see students actively working. “As an art teacher, it can be tough teaching online in some aspects because I can’t always see and fix problems before or as they occur on a student’s project,” Mr. Reid said. “I need to wait till the student holds their project up to the screen, or presents an issue they came across with their software, after the fact.”
Confronting these difficulties, many teachers tackled the obstacles head on. Making minor changes to their traditional teaching styles, both Mr. Reid and Mr. Ariew, along with many other teachers, have adapted to the COVID-19 circumstances.
Mr. Ariew used to teach his classes with prepared powerpoints of problems and solutions, and just explain the processes shown in the powerpoint. “[Now,] I have mostly changed my formatting to Notability,” Mr. Ariew said. “Having problems pre-prepared was fine for in-person teaching, but I feel like it is more organic online if I don’t have everything already worked out. By doing so, I’ve given more traditional ‘notes’ rather than presentations.”
As an art teacher, Mr. Reid needed to make intensive changes to his style of teaching. “For some classes, I have gotten myself into the mindset of how a streamer would function in the art world… in a sense, producing tutorials for software applications and then opening up to questions afterwards, when the students try on their own after watching the different steps and tool functions,” said Mr. Reid. “In drawing-based classes, I do a more step-by-step method, where the class holds up their work every few minutes.”
While it is important to be safe throughout this pandemic, most teachers are eager to get back in the classroom and reunite with their students.