January 25, 2021 marked the beginning of the third quarter of our hectic and uncertain universe. Teachers and students made the transition to the continuation of the first quarter classes with high expectations and great trepidation.
While most of the emphasis and focus has been on students, our teachers face enormous pressure to ensure that learning will be as efficient and effective as possible. History teacher Mr. Jeremy Hart said “there is so much stress” adapting to the new format requiring continuing semester one classes and beginning new classes mid year.
This challenge was provoked by the administration who broke the schedule down into four quarters instead of the traditional semester system. This action was an attempt to protect the students and teachers from dangerous interactions. Courses are taught in quarter sessions which has resulted in an unnatural accelerated pace. In order to ensure that this schedule worked, the faculty had spent many hours examining their curriculum to make changes that would fit this revised schedule.
Approaches to this dilemna varied. Most teachers created fun and interactive ways to help students recall their quarter-one information. Some strategies include simply writing down everything a student remembers on a blank sheet of paper. Others have experimented with Quizlet games, Kahoot, or have created board games to ensure that their students could move forward from where they had left off. The success in these endeavors will become evident as the third quarter moves forward.
“I think it’s a big ask to remember everything we did. My goal is to be as understanding as I can” math teacher Mr. Matthew Ator said. “Like how much time we spent reviewing the first quarter…. in my opinion it’s been very little.”
Are the students aware of the burden that has been put on the shoulders of our teachers? It is evident that many teachers put their students’ educational needs above all other priorities. “It is important to be cognizant of your students more. We can’t do a lot of hands-on work” Math Department Chair Mr. Justin Gaudreau said. He clearly is sympathetic to the obstacles that his students need to overcome as they navigate this unfamiliar territory.
While most teachers understand that it would take time for the students to start from where the first quarter ended, they do have expectations that they will be led down a successful path designed by their department chairs.
“The math department had several conversations about this over the summer, and we kinda came to the conclusion that we could cover new material, and, if needed, we can review the skills needed in the first quarter within the new material,” Mr. Gaudreau said.
Intertwining new and old material is certainly a challenge. The idea behind this process is to keep classes at a pace that would replicate a normal year of learning. Another perspective is that both teacher and student can learn how much of the previous quarter information was retained. What data did the student place in their long term memory and how much of this data will they be able to apply when new material is introduced?
When faced with this mission our esteemed faculty are ready to tweek their lesson plans.
“In other years, we came back in the second semester, and I sometimes spent maybe a day catching up to where we had covered… this time, given that the break between quarters was much longer, I may just need to take a few more days to catch up,”math teacher Mr. Stephen Patrylak said.