Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, electives have had to adjust to help students remain safe and healthy. At Mead High School, staff and other supportive adults have created a way that kids can still participate in electives while online during hybrid learning.
Students know what online learning looks and feel like for them, but what is it like from the teachers’ perspective? What are teachers handling during online learning? How has their teaching experience changed?
The Mav student news went to three elective teachers, Mrs. Abigail Koehler, Mr. Chad Lemons, and Mrs. Katie Saenz, for the answers to these questions.
Teachers agreed that creating an online environment for their students to learn has been significantly more difficult than in-person learning.
“As an FCS [Family Consumer Science] teacher, most of my curriculum is hands-on… so trying to create that in an online environment [for half the class] has been difficult,” said Ms. Saenz.
Classes like History of Rock and Roll, Advanced Jazz Band, Parent/Child Development, and Marching Band are more challenging classes to teach and manage online because they include a lot of in-person interaction. These classes also demand a lot more from the students since they need to be more motivated to learn and improve alone at home. On the other hand, classes like Study Hall are easy to manage online since they’re not very different in person.
Students admit that it is challenging trying to communicate with teachers. The Mav asked elective teachers how it felt for them.
Mrs. Koehler from the music department said that it has been more difficult to communicate when on WebEx. She also mentioned how students turning off their screens can make it hard to read her students because she cannot see their facial expressions. She also mentioned that teachers can lose the flow of a conversation when having to unmute or deal with internet problems. “[When online,] I feel like I can’t give my students the support they need to keep making progress and improve,” said Koehler.
Something that all three of the teachers agreed on was how much they missed the social interaction and the feeling of students being engaged during class.
Some might believe more students are failing because of this new learning environment; however, it depends on the student. The teachers we interviewed said some students are thriving this year while others are struggling, just like with normal in-person learning.
Mr. Lemons said, “I think some students are more comfortable expressing themselves through remote learning assignments.”
“Everyone learns differently, and there are some students [who] have really thrived while doing online learning, just like there are some students that thrive best in person,”said Mrs. Koehler.
Some teachers have found ways to make it work and be successful, and other teachers are still struggling to provide a good learning environment for their online students.
Ultimately, our elective teachers said that half-online learning has definitely been a challenge for them to teach and adapt to. While they are seeing strong student work and success, they miss being able to work with all the students in person and get genuine teacher-to-student interaction five days a week.