By Leader Beippa and Aisha Aden
There have been many changes to this new school year. These are some responses that show how people find balance, including: Mrs. Rose Ott, Mrs. Lindsey Metz, Senior Barika Kpeenu, and Ms. Lindsey Simenson.
How do you balance your time?
Ott: It’s hard. I am working more hours than ever; I just have to decide when enough is enough.
Metz: I have found that I use my time in school much more. I guess I don’t waste any time from the time I get here to the time I leave; I get anything done that needs to get done. On Wednesday, when we are at home, I use that time to really grade and communicate with parents and students.
I try not to take a lot of work home with me. Evenings are for family time.
Kpeenu: I use a calendar at home that Mr. Konodel made for me to keep me on task during
distance learning. At school I focus on trying to get most of my work done.
Simenson: It can be pretty difficult this year, but I think my biggest help is making a
schedule for myself to plan when I’m going to work on things.
How is the hybrid model different than usual
Ott: We have to do more work. The hybrid model just requires us to do a lot of planning and creating ahead, so a lot of the things I have to create for class take up time outside of class.
Metz: I feel like it’s hard to find that balance for communicating. I wanna check emails and communicate with students when they need it because I know the time that they would use in class to ask those questions is no longer there. I have a hard time knowing when to stop checking emails and things like that.
Kpeenu: With distance learning, it’s hard to keep on task.
Simenson: I think there’s just a lot to remember this year with two different groups of kids on different schedules.
What do you enjoy about the new normal
Ott: Pretty much nothing. I don’t like it at all.
Metz: I have really enjoyed smaller class sizes, being able to work with students and answer all of their questions. They get more time from teachers, so that’s been nice; however if I could go back and have everybody in the class, I definitely would.
Kpeenu: It gives you free time and you can relax more because with the five days of school it stresses you a lot.
Simenson: Somethings I enjoy it; I really love having smaller classes. I feel like we get to talk
more as a group and interact more.
What do you not like about it?
Ott: Everything. I miss having school five days a week with my kids, so I can get to know them and be there to help them. I’m looking forward to the day it’s safe enough for all of us to come back to five days a week.
Metz: Not seeing students five days a week. It’s really hard to not see students Monday through Friday and only see them two days a week.
Kpeenu: Not seeing most of my friends is what I don’t enjoy.
Simenson: I don’t like not seeing everyone everyday, it’s hard to keep track of stuff when kids are gone and that’s what is difficult for me.
Have you found anything more difficult because of this new school year?
Ott: I feel like I don’t know my students as well as I normally would. At this time, I feel like I would have relationships with a lot of my kids and that facilitates better learning for them. So that’s been difficult - getting to know them and getting them to open up to me, so we can have a a positive relationship.
Metz: I think knowing how much is too much to give to students that’s been difficult. We don’t know what it’s like to be a student right now, so I think we are constantly second guessing ourselves and not knowing what exactly is right. Finding that balance can be difficult.
Kpeenu: Something I found difficult is wearing mask everywhere and sitting or standing six feet apart; that’s probably the most difficult.
Simenson: I think one of the difficult part is planning out my schedule for classes.
What’s something you have found easier
Ott: Well I have been getting better at technology, which is a positive. I have been getting better on the iPad, so I say that has been something that’s been easier for me.
Metz: There’s more opportunities to work with students one-on-one. That intervention time has been nice. I could tell a student “let’s meet on Wednesday,“ and we could work on their assignment.
Kpeenu: Something I found easier this school year is just school in general.
Simenson: I think I found learning kids names easier this year
By Jacob Fisher and Hailey Boehme
How do you teach students when you can only see half on them at a time?
That is a question teachers all over the United States have had to answer, and will continue to answer in states such as North Dakota. With many parents, students, and medical professionals fearful of COVID-19 spread within educational facilities, an unusual educational route had to be taken to keep the schools running. The answer for much of the country has been hybrid, or even full-online teaching models. Students here in the West Fargo School District are only in school two days a week to minimize infection. However, with some students deciding to stay home, and many more hybrid students in need of help and instruction at home, some teachers have had to reinvent the wheel for their curriculums.
Mr. Thibert, a geometry and algebra II teacher at Sheyenne, certainly didn’t think he would had to take on such massive changes. He spends an extra 4-5 hours a week on school compared to a regular year. “I feel bad because I like to do investigations with tools like protractors and compasses, but it’s harder to share materials like that. It’s harder to do hands on activities,” Mr. Thibert commented. One of his greatest challenges this year has been preparing new, specialized materials, grading, and lots of new online paperwork.
Ms. Peterson, an English and Yearbook teacher, puts it this way: “[Being online] has kinda decreased the workload, as far as planning goes, streamlining what can be accomplished easily without overwhelming students in a week.” For English, students have a lot of work to do outside of school, which means more work she needs to grade. “With the virtual days, [the students] have more out of class work. Usually, with my classes, you just do the work in class and you might have [some] extra homework, but this year because of the flip and because of the hybrid model, they have more work do to outside of class than how my class is traditionally set up.”
For her greatest challenges, she mentions tracking down and helping students when they are home, such as for constructive criticism with writing, and formatting work so students are able to succeed online. She has to think about what she wants "them to do with content, simplify or boil it down to what is the essential skill rather than going into as much detail,” she says. “We might do a couple different things, for example, in a usual year. But, this year, it is the most important things that I want them to do”.
Ms. Bieniek, a 9th grade gym and dance teacher, has had a substantial increase in workload – about three hours worth a week. She mentions the completion-based grading can be hard to keep on up, presumably because gym classes are graded in school. Mr. Schleicher, a principal at Sheyenne, agrees.
“The classes most impacted tend to be the ones that are the most hands-on,” Mr. Schleicher mentions. “Classes with performances …. are hugely impacted by reduced time at school. Science labs, trades and industry, physical education, and the arts really have to think about different ways to restructure learning to accommodate this schedule”.
However, he ends his comments with an optimistic note: “Fortunately, we are continually finding creative ways to overcome circumstances while keeping students and staff safe. I am confident we will continue to do so, and I believe we will come out of this pandemic with a whole new outlook and set of tools to help students learn.”
The Mustang Post
All feature news content is produced by students in the Newspaper program at West Fargo Sheyenne High School.