Student Successes in a Time of Crisis
Ressa Cowen, English Department Chair, High School Pre-AP English
When this school year started, my catch phrase quickly became “adjust and conquer”. Things that would normally be part of my students’ day would no longer be permitted, and so began the panic of everything that would have to change. How would we do group work? Class discussions? Projects? Things had to change, and I tend to resist change. So grab a coffee and get cozy... this is what I know now!
Online learning has its challenges for both student and teacher. But, one thing students seem to struggle with the most while participating in their education through online classes is the lack of social interaction. There have been some awesome advances in technology since we had to go online in the spring! Google Meets created Breakout Rooms to make working in groups a much smoother experience for both the students and teacher! Breakout Rooms allow the teacher to put students in small groups so that they can discuss or work together on an assignment without feeling overshadowed by the class discussion. As impersonal as a Meet really is, this is as close as those online can get to interacting with their peers, so the Breakout Rooms help them to feel more invested in the discussion. Amazing! Group work isn’t dead just because a student is online after all!
Students are so much more resilient than we think! I was worried that the students would shut down with all the changes that had to be made to stay safe in such an intimate environment, but they have continued to surprise me with their innovative ways to conquer the ever present “social distancing monster” that has been imposed on us all this year. The constant hand sanitizing, plexiglass dividers at lunch, wearing a mask all day… These are enough to drive even the most easy going student to the breaking point. Eating outside, even on the most blustery of days, has become a treat that each grade looks forward to. They definitely deserve some props for how well they have adjusted to the new school protocols!
Adjustments from how group work is completed to mask wearing. Conquering has not been as daunting a task as I first thought. “Adjust and conquer!” Such a simple phrase, but oh so applicable for this year’s student and teacher success!
David Sanders, Middle School U.S. History, High School AP U.S. History
How have middle school Cardinals adapted, you ask? After seeing only masked faces of middle school students for the majority of the semester, a chance to see bright, smiling faces in an online format was quite the change. Our students adapted quickly to the new medium, bringing their own unique view to their virtual classrooms. My 7th-graders had family members and pets make guest appearances during our lectures, adding a more individual element to the classroom. The students seemed to appreciate the efforts of the teachers to convert their classes into the virtual world with the help of Google Classroom, Google Meets, Prezi, and Plickers. While face-to-face learning is the most beneficial, our students enjoyed the change of pace as the classroom immersed itself into their tech-savvy lifestyles.