While all students have had to make changes in the way they learn virtually, teachers have had to make just as much, if not more, of an adjustment to their teaching methods in terms of preparation for classes, assessments and curriculum. Although the coronavirus circumstances completely changed the way classes are taught, teachers are rising to the challenge of adapting to this virtual environment.
Teachers are trying to make distance learning as exciting as possible. They are incorporating new types of assessments and interactive lessons in addition to maintaining their energy and passion in a new way. Various departments have handled the shift differently.
History teacher Topher Dunne, like all teachers, has more class time this year than last spring. He is assigning lots of in-class essays instead of many formal tests. Dunne is able to give more feedback and fewer grades when teaching note-taking skills in his underclassman courses first semester. However, he is not able to cover as many topics in his class as he usually can because of the limited amount of time per class and fewer sessions.
Many teachers are struggling with having to adjust their courses to a digital format. They have to teach new lessons and incorporate new strategies to the virtual environment.
Math teacher Beth Stafford said she has been “pushed to learn some new things that [she] wouldn’t have otherwise,” which describes a common sentiment among the GDS community. Stafford is assigning video lessons as a way to use new technologies in her virtual classroom. She plans to focus less on “exposing students to the interesting stuff that isn’t crucial” and assign less textbook homework.
With less time for synchronous, in-class learning than in regular school, teachers must prioritize what is most critically important to their courses and reevaluate how and what they teach. Some teachers may even make changes that will impact their curriculum even after GDS returns to school in person.
Jazz teacher Brad Linde will be including textbooks in his classes this year and he plans to make them a permanent part of his curriculum. The textbooks will touch more on history and music theory than in past years. He describes his classes’ past atmospheres as just “having fun playing it.” Since classes cannot play together on Zoom, however, he will have his students send in videos of themselves playing their instruments and try to stitch them together online to make a virtual band.
For classes with a more relaxed atmosphere, it can be challenging to recreate the same vibe digitally. Teachers are trying their hardest to replicate past class environments; however, they understand it will not be the same.
Theater production teacher Christal Boyd’s class is very hands-on, making it difficult to replicate the usual, relaxed performance arts curriculum at home. Boyd had decided to make her class more formal, assigning quizzes instead of hands-on projects and videos in place of in-person instruction.
School has changed a lot from last year to now, and classes have changed drastically. Teachers have been working extremely hard to adapt their curriculums to a virtual setting. As noted by the teachers, it hasn’t been easy. Nonetheless, teachers are doing the best with what they’ve been given.
Victoria Levi ’23