Teaching Before and After Covid: You Were Never Promised a Rose Garden.

Before Covid this math teacher had the interactive board and the whiteboard.

After Covid she has a mouse, microphone, webcam, speakers, graphics tablet and sits in front of her laptop for most of the period.  She also has a new cable hell.  Today in this class she has no remote students Zoomed in but in many of the classes there is at least one student on Zoom during class.  She says the graphics tablet, an XP-Pen Deco 3 for $110, has made a huge difference.  She can now write on a shared screen with ease.  It is her whiteboard when she is doing remote.  Not all our teachers have this setup.  

Math Room

This English teacher has a different approach.  She has the usual laptop, microphone and big screen TV.  Notice the webcam on the top of the TV.  She also uses a document camera.  If the whole school is remote this teacher teaches in her room.  She swings the TV around so the camera is pointed at the whiteboard and her.  She can see the remote students on the TV and the students see her and the board.  Almost no different from when the kids are in their seats.  The kids are just on the TV.

English Room

Big TV, webcam on top of the TV, graphics tablet, microphone, speakers and computer.  This chemistry room is pretty typical except for the graphics tablet.  To the right out of the frame is a portable whiteboard that can be moved in front of the camera.  The chemistry teacher has no issues with the setup.  His problem is finding a solution to homework and grading.  He says finding software that can grade chemical formulas is a time consuming problem he has given up on.  A single upper/lower case letter causes a problem with his present software solution.  Right now the students are emailing him photos of their home work.  He estimates this only takes 2-3 times as long to grade as his pre-Covid grading.  The software made it in the 5 times as long range.  He admits there is probably a good software solution out there, he just does not have time to research the solution.

Chemistry Room

All the teachers agree that the most difficult change has been the amount of time that post-Covid teaching requires.  Lesson plans need to be more detailed and more flexible.  Science teachers have to dream up whole new strategies for labs.  That fetal pig dissection lab is now out the window.  Time to look for a virtual lab.  It takes time to look for virtual labs and review them.  Can a digital math textbook be found that does what the math teacher wants?  For example our pre-calc curriculum uses parts of about 4 different old textbooks.  The textbooks are old because we cannot afford new ones and the old ones work great.  It takes a lot of time to look for and through digital textbooks.   Tech setup and Zoom setup can take time out of the start of a class.  The Internet is not always reliable.

We are adjusting.  The tech is getting simpler to manage and the teachers are getting better at troubleshooting issues on their own.  Forced familiarity helps.  I think the time issue with grading is always going to be a problem.  Unless the teachers move all their homework to multiple choice I do not think there is a real solution.  Reading digital homework simply takes more time than going through paper assignments.

Oh well.  No one ever said this job was going to be easy.  

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