Much like the students they teach, Jacksboro ISD teachers are learning in the age of online learning due to COVID-19.
Brian Davenport, who teaches history at Jacksboro Middle School, said he is being as effective as he can be, but admits with things changing almost on a daily basis it has been difficult.
“There’s just a huge amount of unknowns, even though we’re seeing the kids about once a week,” Davenport explained. “In many cases, you can’t tell who’s getting it and who’s not. The interaction with the kids that we’re not getting makes things difficult.”
JMS colleague Alex Rodriguez, who teaches 8th grade science, said he has been forced to make some major adjustments in his teaching. The labs students work as part of their normal lessons, have been eradicated.
“It handcuffs me because science is so hands on and the kids really enjoy the labs,” Rodriguez offered. “Even though we have Zoom meetings once a week, it’s still tough. The goals of what we had hoped to accomplish can change from one week to the next.”
Rodriguez said many of the students are maintaining the knowledge they had accumulated through the year, but the interaction with the students is so important and so missing.
Davenport said the online learning is different depending on the age of the student.
“High school students are different with many of them taking dual credit or online courses for a while now anyway,” Davenport said. “The middle school kids should be able to do with online things, but the elementary ones are tough because they may not understand computers and then with the parents trying to explain it to them the way they’ve been taught. It’s a whole new game for those little ones.”
Davenport said many of the students, and teachers as well, are used to the structure of the day, the bells for each period to name just one. The newness is something to get used to.
JHS social studies teacher Aaron Bass said the human relationships which are constantly developing and are one of the reasons he got into teaching are gone.
Bass said he had to convert lesson plans into weekly assignments for his weekly Zoom meeting on Monday, where the class talks about last week and discusses what is to come this week, are held.
On Thursday, he has office hours for students who are having problems. Emails are always a way of contact as well. Keeping the door open is so important right now.
“We have our Zoom meetings, but we have a lot of kids, at least on the high school level, that are taking care of family because their parents are having to work, so you’re not sure the kind of focus they’re able to give,” Bass said. “It’s just a thing of being flexible right now. Taking it day by day and week by week.”
Bass, who admits he is not the most technology savvy person, said much of the learning curve is just that.
“Just like the kids, it’s trial and error. It’s learning on the fly,” Bass noted. “It’s just being humble enough to change when it doesn’t work well and sharing it when it does work well.”
The three men also want students to know there are resources that can get them more information on their respective subjects. All three said they have found technology a useful thing and plan on incorporating it back into their normal curriculum once students and teachers return to the classroom.