Teaching High School in a Covid World

After mentoring & coaching for nearly 20 years, I have found myself back in the classroom teaching high school math. While it wasn’t what I had planned, I am thankful to be back with students, trying many of the things that I had learned. However, I am finding that I am resorting back to familiar ways of being in the classroom. And I have found myself back at the high school that I attended teaching geometry and statistics.

This weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Effective Instruction Conference sponsored by the Alaska Staff Development Network. This virtual conference was a great way to reinvigorate and reflect on what was working and what was not in the classroom. There was an amazing lineup of educators sharing best practices and current projects – from Dr. Jo Boaler and Cathy Williams to Hadi Pavorti.

At second semester, my schedule and many students schedule changed. It was almost like starting over with a new group of students. So all the work that you do in the fall for team and class building has to be redone. Compounding that was Omicron and the impact it is having on student attendance. Last Friday, I had 37 students absent for a variety of reasons. It makes it challenging to create an environment where students feels part of the classroom community. I realized that what was happening in the classroom was not what I was really wanting and that I needed to change a few things to create the environment where students feel safe to take risks and know that how they think is valued.

One thing that I realized is that have created a habit of standing in front of the classroom. Part of this habit came from teaching remote & in person at the same time where students wanted me in from of the camera. However, now that we are exclusively in person, it has created an atmosphere of me being the keeper of knowledge.

Another thing that I realize is that students are not sure if they are right or not and are afraid to take the risk of putting themselves out there without knowing. These student behaviors have me thinking about what it is that I am doing and how can I change that so that they will take the risks and try.

The conference may be realize it would be good to document what I try, why I try it, and what happens so that I know…and so that I can share with others.

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