The first quarter drew to a close on Tuesday. I’m very impressed that we got through the stretch without a day off and with just two diagnosed cases of Covid-19. Our protocols seem to be working, which is a relief to one and all.
Our principal decided that since we hadn’t had a day off since we began, maybe it was time we got a break. He granted us a four-day weekend after we held a Wednesday orientation for the incoming juniors and seniors who have opted to join us for the second quarter.
While tired, I am also pretty pleased with how things went. The adjustments to teaching to two audiences went well, and I am judiciously using the various tech tools without going overboard. I can tell things have been working when students started asking when they could use Flipgrid (a video service) again.
The final days of the quarter brought all the usual requests for extensions or extra credit work. Thankfully, I was able to finalize 99% of my grades on Wednesday but rather than truly relax, I held one-on-one video calls with students, looked over rough drafts of essays, and fielded an assortment of questions.
My freshmen have been struggling with their first formal writing for me. They read seven different creation myths from around the world and were to select two for a compare/contrast essay. No matter how many examples I provided or talked about, most could not come up with a claim to defend. I’m not sure who grew more frustrated: me or them. The first three sets of rough drafts have been pretty rough and I hope they rally for the final draft, due on Friday.
Monday begins the second quarter and we’re going to start with some reflection. What could they do differently to do better this time? What should I do to help them succeed? I’ll be curious as to the responses. To me, one of the key issues is that they are not writing things down so lose track of assignments and deadlines (despite things posted on their school calendars). Nor are they taking notes, based on my glance at their digital notebooks.
I’m gaining five juniors in the school, which will be a nice change. Maybe I’ll get to know them a bit better. The real challenge has been learning who these students are as people since they can’t linger online before or after class, hang out before or after school. Too often they sign on, I say “what’s new?” and get a chorus of “nothing”. Too often they walk into class and I say “what’s new?” and get a chorus of “nothing”.
But, we got through it, and continue to improve day by day, lesson by lesson.