Teachers prepare for hybrid model of instruction

Classrooms rearranged, teachers gain new technology

As the beginning of the hybrid model of instruction draws near, many teachers are updating their classrooms with a new set-up. These changes are necessary as a result of distancing regulations and technology additions to classrooms. Secondary Tech Innovators will be working with all of the departments to help ease the transition to more technology.

Many other changes will come with classroom instruction in the hybrid learning environment. For example, all non-student visitors will be required to sign into whatever room they are visiting.

With the solid date of Monday, March 22 set to be the return to school, teachers took two days off to prepare their classrooms. From the distanced desks to the mandatory masks, the physical aspects of in-person instruction will be strikingly different from those of the previous school year. 

“Just the logistics of the room are one thing. The logistics of presenting to kids at home and at school simultaneously is another thing. And then the logistics of making sure the technology works, because technology can fail anytime,” science department chair Winnie Sloan said.

Another difficulty of the hybrid model is related to the integrity of assessments. According to Sloan, teachers will be able to monitor assessment security more for students in the classroom than students online.

“I’m just assuming that they are students of character. That’s the only assumption I can make. But I can see those who have been walking a line of integrity, and maybe crossing it, [not wanting] to come back to school,” Sloan said.

According to Sloan, Oak Park High School administration has eased the transition from distance to hybrid learning by making the district tech department available for individual appointments. 

“I think that teachers were comforted by the fact that the expectation was to just do what you do. And that was reiterated multiple times at staff meetings and leadership [meetings], to tell [teachers to] do what [they] do at home, just do it at school,” Sloan said.

The administration has made these educational resources, such as Pear Deck, monitors and web cams, available to teachers.

“I have been working with teachers and admin at all OPUSD schools since March of 2020 to devise the best methods for providing instruction in the Hybrid classroom,” Director of Curriculum Jay Greenlinger wrote to the Talon.

In Greenlinger’s words, the administration has been “flexible, supportive and decisive” throughout distance learning.

“I think the OPUSD administrators – including the OPHS administrators- have done an admirable job throughout this pandemic,” Greenlinger wrote. “Teacher concerns and ideas have- in my opinion- been thoroughly studied and responded to by OPHS administrators, which is the most effective way to ease this transition.”

According to Sloan, the transition from distance to hybrid, and distance learning itself, have been very taxing for teachers. 

“I know teachers are working hard because I talk to them, and they’re up late, they’re creating new lessons. Teachers are teaching the same content with 20% less time [which is a] tremendous amount to still keep the kids prepared,” Sloan said.

However, the administration is looking forward to a return to partially in-person instruction.

“I am very excited [about returning to school]! I have been present in the classrooms at our elementary schools, and there is no doubt that being at school is a wonderful thing for students of any age,” Greenlinger wrote.

Greenlinger believes that students are looking forward to returning to campus with their peers, and with teachers and staff members becoming vaccinated, the safety concern is reducing.

“So long as we stay vigilant and focused on safety, the return to school will be an extremely positive development,” Greenlinger wrote.

Science teacher Austin Lippincott does not want to differentiate his curriculum between students who will be attending in-person instruction and those who will be continuing to learn fully virtually. With some of his classes, however, he hopes to include a somewhat hands-on element to learning as an option.

“With my digital electronics class, we’ve been doing virtual circuits, and I want to give them the chance to use actual breadboard [circuits] and other hands-on stuff,” Lippincott said.

Even with in-person learning, Lippincott will not have much freedom to stand up and walk around the classroom. He will be teaching in front of his computer but facing the students, which will be, in his words, “kind of weird.”

“I have no clue what to expect,” Lippincott said. “I probably am going to be a little overwhelmed. But it’s only for like, what – two months? We can all stick it out.”