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.