It was in March 2020 when we were all made aware that after spring break we would all go to 100% distance learning. The directive for teaching the 4th quarter of the 2019 - 2020 school year was simple. We were told to create "enrichment activities" or more commonly known as review worksheets for our students. The work was to help students increase their grade. Work done in quarter 4 was counted as extra credit and we were not allowed to count any missing work against the students. There were so many uncertainties going into the summer 2020 because as a department we were told to use another Geometry curriculum. We were also told that we would be starting the 2020 - 2021 school year with 100% distance learning. At that time, I was okay with my computer skills. I could get by with the knowledge I had with technology at that time. However, I knew I needed to improve my technology skills if I were to succeed and reach students through distance learning.
The first three quarters of the 2020 - 2021 school year was through 100% distance learning. Some students adapted well to distance learning and some students did not do well with distance learning. In the summer of 2020 I decided to take a Google Certification course to help me with improving my computer skills. I would say that was the best decision I made to help me with the 2020 - 2021 school year. Within a year I learned a little more about the Windows and Mac operating systems. I improved my skills in HTML. I also started to learn to code in Python. For the first time in my teaching career, I used whiteboards and Jamboards for distance learning. I also picked up additional skills on how to create interactive digital notebooks using Google Slides. I would like to continue to improve in other areas with technology during summer 2021.
We were finally given the green light to switch to blended learning at the start of quarter 4 of 2020 - 2021 school year. By that time, since we only saw students one time per week and 30 minutes on Friday's for the first three quarters, I knew we were behind in our curriculum. The senior level counselor came to see me and asked me how much was I able to cover the Trigonometry/Precalculus curriculum for the year. I told him that I managed to cover at least 70% of what I would normally cover. My students were so concerned about entering AP Calculus next school year that they went to see their counselor's to see if they could drop the class for next school year. I taught Calculus for many years, but with new leadership, the Principal decided to go with another teacher. What I normally do is hold free review classes for my AP Calculus students in the summer. Unfortunately, I was told to stop the practice because of equity concerns. I was told it wasn't fair that some students could attend my free class and some students couldn't attend my summer free class.
With my new found computer skills in creating webpages, I knew I had to set up a site for my students to go on and study from my site on their own during the summer. Since time was not on my side to complete the site, I decided to use a ready made template instead of building the site from scratch. The entire Precalculus curriculum that I covered with my students is on the website along with other resources I pulled from online that I felt the students will need to know.
This school year has renewed my passion to teach because I have computer skills that I never had prior to the pandemic. I used to tell my colleagues, now retired from teaching, all I need is some dry erase markers, a white board and an overhead projector and I'll be okay. I'm glad I changed my way of viewing teaching. I will continue to take computer classes to help me prepare my students. Having multiple ways of communicating my lessons to students in this age of technology is a must. Aside from writing books on my own time, my next goal for the classroom is to see if I could teach the computer science class at my school at some point in time.
I was content with the current computer skills sets that I had prior to the pandemic. But, as I look back now after taking several computer classes, I don't think I want to return to the old way of teaching by just using the dry erase marker, a white board and an overhead projector with nothing else. With the exception of my first 5 years of teaching, this school year was probably the most challenging. What I got out of this school year is my new computer skill sets that I learned and a renewed passion to teach Mathematics. I will still continue to write Mathematics workbooks, but teaching Math moving forward has provided me a challenge on new ways to improve my craft as a teacher. I am looking forward to next school year in the classroom. But, in the meantime, I will definitely enjoy my two months of summer of doing nothing but writing Math workbooks.