And just like that, we are down to nine days of teaching left.
I have stretched the final units a bit for the sophomores and juniors, slowing down the pacing and adding in supplemental works so it’s more in-depth than. The honors freshmen are just now wrapping up The Old Man and the Sea and will complete a mini-unit on Media Literacy with the time left. The college prep freshmen are well into Media Literacy and should finish the year with this vital information.
I say vital because I am already encountering cynics and some who have already bought into conspiracy theories regarding the government, Covid-19, and who knows what else. I am trying to make them more aware of the sites they visit and how to vet them. Clearly, there will be more to do.
My honors juniors remain a mixed bunch with many writing some lovely journal responses about 1984 but there’s very little interaction beyond the work. Most skip the weekly video chats. It’s been a tense year with them all along, never quite rising to what I had hoped for based on how well they did as sophomores.
Then there are my sophomores who continue to plagiarize their answers to questions about The Great Gatsby rather than show me original thought. As I continue to show them I caught where they found the information, none have apologized and most keep at it. Similarly, many who don’t plagiarize make up for it by refusing to proofread and submitting sloppy work.
Here’s where I miss being with them day in and day out, where I could collar some after a class and discuss it one on one. Or engage in a healthy debate over the conspiracy theories. Or happily chat about the real world connections that continue to keep 1984 relevant.
But they’re at home and I’m in the home office. I post videos and work, I grade work, I try and keep in touch, and chase down the ones who aren’t working. They do what they do, with few showing much interest in the material or the lessons or even keeping in contact. It’s weird and ultimately dissatisfying.
With the planning done, I am already looking at the new materials I am rolling out in the fall. I have begun thinking two ways, teaching in class or online. If we start online, it’s going to be very hard to develop a good rapport with the kids, especially the incoming freshmen who I may not meet face to face for some time. I will need different tools, such as interactive notebooks, and more creative ways to deliver lessons to avoid tedium and disinterest.
We won’t find out our course assignments until the very final days of grading so I am justifiably curious.
Weird, dissatisfying times ahead. For now, I am proud of how my peers have risen to the occasion. We turned, essentially, on a dime and went to online classes, delivering education, expecting results, and holding the students to clear standards. As other places floundered, failed, and disappointed, we showed our Panther Pride. I certainly feel the parents got their money’s worth. I just wish I could tell if the kids actually learned anything from their bedrooms.