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Teaching online through the pandemic

 

Last updated 1/11/2021 at 11:57am

Courtesy photo

Third grade teacher Seth Flaten poses for a photograph with his son, Elix. Flaten has been teaching third grade for Lincoln-McKinley Primary School online this year.

The 2020-2021 academic school year has been challenging for students, parents, administrators and teachers. Lincoln McKinley third grade teacher Seth Flaten has experience many changes in his daily interactions with his students.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic Flaten has assumed the role of distance learning teacher for third grade students. 

"The change has been very interesting to say the least.  I love the challenge presented by being the distance learning teacher.  Before COVID I already had my lessons saved electronically, so I have been able to utilize some of the resources I already had in place.

Dealing with a different environment

Flaten said it has been different not seeing his students face-to-face. He does enjoy recording lessons for the students to view and said his students love their experience with distance learning. 

"This experience has really shown me just how resilient and ambitious the students within our schools are," he said. "This situation has presented them just as many challenges as it has the adults in our community, and they have adapted to meet these ever-changing expectations."

Stress has increased this year compared to previous years for Flaten. He said this is due to having to find or develop new content for his students. 

"It has been daunting to completely change the delivery method for instruction, lessons, and interventions," he said.

Flaten said his fellow employees are handling the situation exceedingly well. The staff has made adjustments through out the year to do what is best for the students. 

"Our district wants our students to have the opportunities necessary to meet their learning goals while remaining safe," he said.

Students have been wearing masks at times that social distancing is not possible. The students treat the precautions as another procedure and have mastered it dutifully he said.

Misinformation about COVID-19 does not occur often for Flaten. He said this is due to his classroom being exclusively online and the families he interacts with seem to be taking the pandemic very seriously.

Flaten said he thinks misinformation would make teaching more challenging than it already is. This year has already been more challenging than most due to the lesson plan changes, the format for delivering lessons, interventions and content in general being changed for all teachers.

The holiday season brought concern for Flaten because of the potential of a rise in cases partnered with having a new baby, his son, Elix, born in August at home. 

"Hopefully, people within the community will continue to wear masks in order to keep the number of cases reduced, keeping our students safe," he said. "I think if we continue to require masks and social distancing, we can hopefully safely return students to school.  Similarly, I also hope we continue to offer the families that seek additional protection to option to seek a remote learning option.  Many students or family members of students may have preexisting conditions that make coming to school a substantial risk."

A day in Flaten's shoes

Flaten said his day consists of preparing his online classroom by preparing the materials he posts for his students. He also checks and sends emails to assist students and parents throughout the day. 

He prepares a daily memo to help guide students through the day along with live lessons to present to students throughout the day.  Lessons are also recorded so students can view them at times that are convenient for them. 

Flaten also meets with students individually to conduct math and reading interventions. He then records and uploads the information related to interventions. Small group setting meets are also conducted to more deeply cover topics within the ELA curriculum. 

Flaten still tends to traditional teaching duties such as grading assignments, providing feedback to his students and monitoring student online progress and achievement.

 
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