How are teachers keeping up with Panthers Online?

Hellen Jin, Staff Writer

Virtual school is an unprecedented way of learning, and thus, for students and teachers alike, our “school lives” have dramatically changed. Yet while we, as students, have the luxury to sleep in and adapt to a schedule of our own, teachers cannot afford to do such a thing. 

To gain a better insight into what teachers are experiencing in these trying times, I interviewed four teachers: US Biology teacher Kelly Grosskurth, US History teacher Stefanie Santangelo, and MS Spanish teacher Christine Scheil.

 

 Spotlight: Ms. Grosskurth

What is the biggest challenge of shifting to online school for you?

My biggest challenge is providing my students with written feedback in a timely manner so that they can use this feedback to help them on the next day’s assignment since during “normal” school this feedback on homework was mostly verbal.    

What is something that became easier after shifting to online school?

With shifting to online school, I was able to be more creative with assignments and embedded more projects into the units we covered as a form of assessment instead of quizzes and tests. 

What is your typical work schedule? 

I am on my computer around eight AM.  My mornings when I am not on Google Meet are usually for lesson and curriculum planning and my afternoons are usually for grading/feedback.  I usually stop around 6 PM so I can get outside and get a run in along the canal and then I check Schoology at least one more time in the evening for student submissions. 

What do you do during your free time? 

Run along the canal, cook a lot more, make nice lattes from home in the morning, watch shows with my fiance on Netflix and read books. 

Spotlight: Sra. Scheil

What is the biggest challenge of shifting to online school for you?  

What I find most challenging is not being able to see my students and be in the same room with them during class.  When we communicate we use more than words; we communicate with our hand gestures, facial expressions and other movements of the body. When learning another language, sometimes body language can be key when trying to figure out or even really understand what is being said.  Having that aspect of language learning missing makes it challenging for me to make sure my students are understanding me and whatever topic we are discussing.

What is something that became easier after shifting to online school?

 With regard to school, I would say being able to schedule meetings one-on-one with students has become easier, as everyone has more availability, especially in the afternoon.  In general, it’s become easier to have dinner together with my family as no one has to be somewhere else in the afternoon.  That’s been a big perk of this situation.

What is your typical work schedule? 

 I start by reading and responding to email at around 7:30. Once classes start at 8:05, I’m either running a class meeting, meeting with students individually or attending other meetings.  Most days, I’m done with the school day by 4:00.  In the evening, I spend time looking over student work and providing feedback or lesson planning.

 What do you do during your free time? 

 I typically try to get outside and do something.  I’ve been going for walks with my family and we’ve been exploring parts of our neighborhood we haven’t walked through before which has been a lot of fun. We actually found a small labyrinth you can walk through right near our house that I had never seen before.  Other times we’ll head  Mountain Lakes in Princeton and spend some time hiking the trails there.  If it’s not a day to be outdoors, I’ll read, which is something I typically don’t get to do much during a typical school year.

 

Spotlight: Ms. Santangelo

What is the biggest challenge of shifting to online school for you?

I’ve never been a person who likes to engage with others through a screen—I’m not very good at texting or Facetiming people, and I much prefer in-person conversations. Living and teaching in a virtual world has dramatically changed how much time I spend interacting with a screen. On the one hand, I get tired of doing so, but on the other, it’s the only way I get to see people, hear them laugh, interpret their facial expressions, etc. In that regard, I’m thankful for the technology, but I look forward to a time when we are back in each other’s company.

What is something that became easier after shifting to online school?

I can wake up a little later and work in sweatpants! There’s no rush to get out the door in the morning!

What is your typical work schedule? 

One of the challenges with online learning is that there is no separation between school and life – it’s all happening in the same place! Over the last two months, I’ve noticed that my work days have become longer. I’m typically up and starting my day at 7:00AM and I take a break late in the afternoon to go for a bike ride or walk, and then return to my computer until 9:00 or 10:00PM.

What do you do during your free time? 

I’ve put more miles on my bike and my sneakers than on my car! Most of our free time is spent walking around town and exploring new spaces or going for bike rides. These two pursuits have helped me to maintain balance.

 

Teachers are operating on an utterly different schedule than we are, and as students, we must respect this. Our teachers are working hard for us to learn in these difficult times, and we should show our gratitude towards them. Don’t forget to thank your teachers before the end of the year—they truly deserve it. 

 

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