Oshkosh area teachers make the most of virtual classes

Published: May. 21, 2020 at 4:56 PM CDT
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One of the most drastic changes the pandemic has made to daily life is in education. Most teachers have had to completely rework how they implement lessons with students.

“The last few months they’ve definitely been really strange,” said Brett Hartman, a teacher at Oshkosh west High School.

“It’s definitely been a new opportunity and new challenges,” said Kathryn Noble, a teacher at Washington Elementary.

Many teachers and students would like to get back into a classroom, but for now teachers are going above and beyond to engage students.

Hartman teaches English. He says his class usually involves a lot of discussion, so switching to an online format lacking face-to-face contact has been a big change. At first he started by creating video lectures for his class, but has started bringing in special guests on those videos as well.

“I had each of our assistant principals and head principal and a couple other teachers come in,” said Hartman. “We had kind of prepared a script beforehand, and the kids seem to respond pretty well to that I think.”

Kathryn Noble works a lot with parents to keep her first graders learning. Not only having the students demonstrate how they’re problem solving their work, but also giving a daily hands-on “challenge” like fort building.

“Right now we just want them to maintain the level that they’re at,” said Noble. “What can we give them that’s engaging? What can we give them that they’re excited to do?”

The district worked to ensure students could access a Chromebook and WiFi to make these lessons possible. Noble was even able to use district funds to help ensure her families’ basic grocery needs were met as well.

“To be able to provide that for my families and knowing that they are safe and they are secure and they are able to learn and grow makes my heart very happy,” said Noble.

Both teachers admit there will likely be some catch-up needed when schools reopen, but say this situation brought new perspective and new strengths.

“I think it’s helping all teachers become stronger in their profession and when we do go back to the traditional classroom setting I think we’re all going to come back stronger,” said Noble. “We’re going to have a new sense of what it really means to be reflective and what it really means to be flexible and what it really means to have to solve a problem and have to figure out new ways of doing things.”

“Online schooling and everything is great in situations like this but it can’t really replace in-person school itself and all the friendships and relationships that are built there,” said Hartman. “I think that just really puts just another importance on just the value of schools and education that hopefully we can get back to and grow moving forward.”

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