Moving Forward to Next School Year

Updated: Jun 5, 2021

I would always hear during professional development that we need to teach to the different learning styles of all students. This is always much easier to say than do. For example, in Geometry, there are a lot of physical tools a teacher could use to convey information to the physical learner. As students move on to the higher level math courses such as Precalculus, Trigonometry or Calculus, it becomes increasingly harder to find hands on tools for every concept within the course. The 2020 - 2021 SY has forced me to reconsider how I teach my courses. For example, when we were 100% distance learning during the first 3 quarters of the year, it seemed the dominant mode of teaching was aimed at the auditory learner. I remember during the school year, the current administration mandated that all students turn on their camera's during class time. That obviously didn't last long because some of the students just refused to turn on the camera during Google Meets virtual class. I would learn later in the course during quarter 4 why a student refused to turn on the camera during distance learning. That one student chose to return to face to face instruction during blended learning during quarter 4. With 2 other siblings in the same room, it made it almost next to impossible for this student to turn on the camera because it would have interfered with the learning environment of the other two siblings.

I had several other options I could have used to help me with teaching, but all required additional technology equipment to make this type of teaching and learning environment a reality. With the current technology tools available for me to use at that time, it made it difficult to teach to the other type of learners. It wasn't until 4 weeks to the end of the school year that I was able to purchase my own iPad so I could draw and use in the classroom. Drawing on the laptop mouse pad was not the easy to do because it had limitations to drawing figures. I used the overhead projector where students saw me writing on my paper while I gave instruction majority of the year. Other than my notes, I placed on Google Classroom, students had nothing else to refer back to for instruction. Early in the year, I used my iPhone to create instruction where I created videos of the lessons to place on Google Classroom. However, the editing and uploading of the videos were time consuming. With just about 4 weeks left of school, I finally got the iPad I needed to draw on a digital whiteboard and a free screen recorder to record and make videos through my digital whiteboard. The students found it much easier to refer to and a lot of students mentioned at the end of the year that the videos helped them learn the material.

Another thing I found useful was to create a free Google Sites webpage where students can review the entire Precalculus class by going to the website and reviewing everything they had completed during the semester. There are two takeaways that I got out of this school year. The first takeaway was that I needed to make sure my students were able to access the information with as little trouble as possible. The second takeaway was money. I never really thought of this because I thought I had all the tools I needed to teach the students. It never occurred to me that I had to purchase my own iPad so I could teach my students in the classroom. I always thought that my school and district provided adequate resources for me to do my job.

I will continue to do two things for next school year. Creating videos for my students from my iPad on whiteboards will continue. Also, I will continue to create Google sites webpages for my classes as long as it's free from Google. I will be teaching probability and statistics for next school year. I have already wrote out the scope and sequence of the course and I am in the process of creating a Google Site Webpage for the class. The idea of being a life long learner is something that I have always believed in. I am putting this saying into practice by using the additional skill sets I picked up because I had to adapt to teaching during the pandemic. I used say to a friend and now a retired teacher, "all I need is a dry erase marker, a physical whiteboard to write on and a projector" to teach my class. That is something I don't believe in anymore. The idea of being a lifelong learner helped become a better teacher; it also helped me recover my passion for teaching.

Don Sabado

High School Math Teacher/Author

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