Local educators adapt to teaching in a pandemic

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A key component of a teacher’s lesson plan was once dependent on students being present in the classroom. When the fear of transferring the COVID virus shuttered schools last March, it created an opportunity for teachers to adapt to an online learning environment.

At the start of the school year parents were presented with the option of having their students learn in class or learn online which for some teachers at Lincoln Community High School that meant rethinking the education process.

Michelle Hobbs, who is the Director of the Freshman Academy, said there was a paradigm shift in the traditional way students learn.

“It has opened our eyes to a new way of teaching and I have to say it has made us better communicators with fellow staff members,” said Hobbs.

“I could not do this all and so the collaboration with fellow teachers has been wonderful,” Hobbs continued.

LCHS Technology Coordinator, Jennifer Keith, said the first mention of going paperless depended on how comfortable teachers felt by working in a virtual world.

“We had to think outside the box. Going paperless would stop the spread of germs. It was like building a plane as you were flying but we had to figure it out due to everyone’s level of comfort in technology,” said Keith.

Students take block classes that rotate daily with one block offered Monday, Wednesday, Friday and others that are Tuesday and Thursday. Due to the time it takes for cleaning, classes end around 1 p.m. each day.

Last semester 190 students signed up for virtual learning and this semester that number dropped to 183. The online platform students use is Edgenuity which offers online classes in core curriculum.

"For whatever reason, I think kids missed that daily interaction with their peers," said Hobbs.

For Special Education students the idea of online education was a new way of looking how to learn.

Dawn Burton, a special education teacher at LCHS, said at first the process was by trial and error.

“I noticed we had to review more and work slower because of the lack of face to face interaction. I think the kids have adapted but I feel the parents don’t understand how hard it is,” said Burton.

Liz Schneider, who also teaches special education, said the task to go paperless was daunting.

“At first converting to paperless was a struggle because we have always used paper. It’s a transition for sure and it made me reach out to different departments to ask questions. It took some time to convert things,” said Schneider.

Guidance counselors Erin Varner and Sara Sisk noticed early on how students reacted to online learning.

“I think for our students it was the structure of being here. Being around their peers made a huge impact and online wasn’t what they thought it would be,” said Varner.

“A big factor was how the parents supported their decision for that type of learning,” said Sisk.

Schneider said she too noticed problems with the virtual world learning.

“Our students would be online but you could hear a television being on and blaring in the background,” said Schneider.

Burton added that many online students would be in cars and there wasn’t a quiet place to learn.

"I noticed students were riding in a car and I assume they were going with their parents for something," said Burton.

Both special education teachers mentioned they missed the daily face to face interaction with students.

All shared their appreciation for staff members who were doing jobs that would be considered out of their job description.

"I have to say everyone is committed to keeping this place germ free. I saw some of the ladies from the cafeteria cleaning door handles," said Schneider.

The educators said they were committed to the new ways of teaching and even chuckled when dealing with the art of taking attendance.

"We have so many new google spreadsheets to look at. I will ask ‘which spreadsheet are we talking about," said Hobbs.

Keith said after earning a degree online she felt it could be done.

"Kids are great at adapting to technology," said Keith.

Hobbs said when the pandemic ends the real test will be going back to the traditional schedule.

"It will be hard when we return to normal classes ending at 3 p.m. I think the students have gotten used to being off at 1 p.m. and it will take some time in adjusting back to the normal schedule."

Lincoln Community High School educators from left: Jennifer Keith, Dawn Burton, Liz Schneider, Michelle Hobbs and Erin Varner. Not pictured is Sara Sisk.

via Lincoln Courier https://ift.tt/2yFS2EF

February 22, 2021 at 02:11PM

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