The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted us in many ways; One of those being the education systems. The USD 259 school district adopted the blended learning model, January 11, 2021. This allows some students to be on-site and the others remote, while all in the same class.
Students and teachers have had to adapt to the changes rather quickly. New-to-West teacher, Cynthia Martinez-Woelk believes it is a growing and learning process, with obstacles along the way.
“ I wish I could go back and talk to myself and say it’s gonna be okay ‘cause I had a really hard time at first, it just seems overwhelming and I’m sure it is for students too, just a feeling of like ugh this is impossible. You know it’s not impossible we just get better with continuing to try to work with it and do the best we can, Martinez-Woelk said.
Both teachers and students are having difficulty with communication, not only from students online but also students in the classroom.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to a wall, like nobodies here.” Martinez-Woelk said, “Even students that are in class are a little bit shy or don’t even respond and I’m like ‘I know they hear me ‘cause they’re right here”.
Hailey Timmerman, a Sophomore at West High also gets frustrated with participation during online classes.
”I wish they’d participate more”, Timmerman said.”Because I feel like sometimes I’m the only one talking or it’s just a few other people talking instead of like, a whole class.”
Although the year is going rather smoothly, attentive aspects play a major role in unfairness.
“I believe it (attention between the two groups) could be a little better but with the circumstances, it’s gonna be a little difficult to try to bring attention to both in-school and out-of-school students,” Timmerman said.
As teachers are getting more used to things they are becoming better and being more aware.
“Now that I’m starting to get a little bit used to it I’m checking in with my students online, presenting materials online, and then when it’s work time I go around and walk around the room and take a look at what students are doing”. Says Martinez-Woelk,.
Cognition plays a major role in learning throughout students, Educational Psychologist, David Herron tells us some aspects to focus on when teaching.
“There has to be a management of cognitive load … teachers have to take care to avoid overloading a student’s cognitive process”. Educational Psychologist, Jason Herron says.
Due to this year’s circumstances, students tend to get behind but there is a district-wide practice called Wellness Wednesdays.
“I kind of like both because I like talking to teachers and students, But sometimes I just want it quiet so I can focus on getting some of my missing work done and finished so I can be able to catch up to the other people”, Timmerman said.
Overall, teachers and students at West High are pushing through this hardship and prospering.
“We’re all in this together, it’s new, it’s difficult for all of us. There’s some good things, there’s some bad things, so try to focus on you know what’s going really well and make sure students feel like they’re doing a great job.. I think its baby steps to feel comfortable with it, just look at the bright side”, Martinez-Woelk said.