Teachers adapt to major curriculum changes

Marisa Sandoval, Editor

The pandemic has provided almost a year of change for the world, and school’s curriculum all over the globe has not been an exception. Teachers have had to continuously alter their assignments as students have moved between hybrid and full distance. Teachers have been facing challenges that they never could have prepared for. 

“The biggest challenge has been getting to know my students to a level where I intuitively know what students need,” AP U.S. History teacher Matthew Ochs said. “From hybrid schedules, to full distance schedules, COVID-19 restrictions, masks, and trying to teach a group of students in the room AND via Zoom at the same time is challenging. Unfortunately I do not feel like I have a good understanding of what all my students need on any given day. I leave work every day with an overwhelming sense that I let a handful of students down because I ran out of time to help them address an issue or problem that is usually out of their control.”

Although many teachers have had difficulties with technology, some have realized that Zoom and using Microsoft Teams as a way to connect with students at all times of the day has been their greatest ally in getting students to participate while at home.

Making Zooms mandatory actually helped student engagement and learning,” Math teacher Anna Costello said. “ I was hesitant at first to make my Zoom meetings mandatory because I wasn’t sure how students felt about having to get on Zoom during their in person days. What I saw was more students turning in work and more students actually learning when we were not in person.”

The lack of consistency has pushed teachers to go back to the basics as their face to face time with students has been cut by more than half. Along with countless other teachers,  Earth Science teacher Michael Edwards has had to change his curriculum and focus on new ways to engage his students. Edwards’ solution has been cutting down on book work and providing students with interactive videos with fill in notes to answer questions as they watch. 

It is hard to say that students have not fallen a bit behind with all of the crazy schedules, less time in the classroom and new platforms we are all using,” Edwards said. “I know teachers have done an amazing job in focusing on the framework in their classrooms.  I have really focused on highlighting the standards and  the delivery of that content.”

Hybrid learning has been hard for some students to adjust to as well. Senior Ryan Guinn has had a difficult time staying motivated while at home. Guinn is fearful of his upcoming AP exams in May. Guinn has taken multiple AP exams in the past and understands what they demand of students.

“I’m scared for my AP exams as I don’t think I’ve learned nearly as much as I’m supposed to in order to pass an AP test,” Guinn said. 

Sophomore Lexi Edwards has never taken an AP exam before and is working on ways to find out how to pass the exam. Her AP class has been her biggest challenge of the year as she does not feel ready for her big test in May.

“I’m absolutely terrified for my AP exam,” Edwards said. “I don’t feel ready at all and it’s a stressful thing to think about. I’m preparing by thinking of a way to study the material and I am trying to come up with ways to remember important concepts that I am having trouble understanding.” 

After ten months of navigating full distance and hybrid learning everyone is still adjusting. Many teachers have been struggling to find ways to connect with their students. Ochs has been successful in reaching students by offering extra office hours via Zoom during lunch and his prep period to answer any questions they have. Teachers and students’ biggest opponent is that no simple answer works for everyone.