With the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year and transition into the summer, teachers began to redesign their courses for the upcoming school year. COVID-19’s unpredictability caused teachers to experience several challenges as they maneuvered through the planning process.
Overall, teachers needed to make their courses flexible.
“I think it was most difficult to think about a curriculum that could be delivered in both virtual and in-person formats that were also ready to be fully virtual or fully in-person at any moment,” Ancient World History and Finance teacher Mr. Brian Long said. “We had to be ready should the school need to clean or go virtual.”
Previous courses that often involved group work and collaboration had to be modified as well. Spanish and Latin teacher Mr. Javier Lluch had to adjust the majority of his courses.
“I had to take all the things that I had and rework them so they could be COVID compliant,” Mr. Lluch said. “All the collaboration and pair work [went] out the window.”
Chemistry teacher Mr. Will Leech noted similar difficulties planning of his course, specifically regarding lab experiences and hands-on activities for virtual students. To replace this, Mr. Leech utilized online resources.
“We’ve paid subscriptions to various different websites for animations, softwares, and things like that,” Mr. Leech said. “We’ve really tried to accommodate our virtual students.”
“During the beginning of September, [my students] were so overworked and overwhelmed. I had to tone things down.”Mr. Javier Lluch
Despite planning throughout the summer, many adjustments were still needed as the year began.
“During the beginning of September, [my students] were so overworked and overwhelmed,” Mr. Lluch said. “I had to tone things down.”
As the year has progressed, teachers have noticed their preparations in effect. Throughout this change, teachers recognize that students may lose out on content.
“Frankly, we’re not going to hit a unit or two that we usually do,” said math teacher Mr. Nathan Bridge.
Still, Mr. Bridge believes that the level of learning is on par and in some ways better than previous years.
“I see richer and deeper thoughts come about as a result of the assessments that we’re doing in class this year,” Mr. Bridge said. “I feel better about it. I feel like I’m getting to know my students better in terms of their thinking about the material.”
“I want to make sure [my students] are coming out of my class truly with the skills to master the subjects we’re talking about.”Mr. Will Leech
Mr. Long shares the same feeling.
“This year I don’t think we’ll get through perhaps the same amount of volume of content, but I think we’ve still been able to address, work on, and assess all of the skill sets that I think are important for my students to have,” Mr. Long said.
Regardless of individual course challenges, teachers are pleased with the way their courses have turned out.
“I feel like I have taught better this year than I have any other year of my career because I had to prioritize the learning,” Mr. Leech said. “I haven’t had that excess time to throw more facts and figures [at my students] for them to remember. I want to make sure [my students] are coming out of my class truly with the skills to master the subjects we’re talking about.”