Local teachers are still teaching — and still learning

By John Hamilton - jhamilton@wnewsj.com

WILMINGTON — While classes won’t be in session for several weeks — if that — teachers and students are finding ways to complete their work.

Wilmington High School teachers have been able to provide work through packets they sent home with students, work on Google Classroom, and they have Google forms to check in on.

Cora Kramer, a social studies teacher, is happy to see students enjoy doing their work at home in a more comfortable environment. But she’s not able to assess their learning and make sure they’re completing things correctly. She also feels that seniors are missing out on a lot.

“There are just a lot of unknowns right now. They are missing out on AP and CCP instruction that they need for college prep,” said Cramer. “Prom is coming up, and a lot of them are concerned that it will be canceled. There are a lot of concerns about commencement as well. It’s just a really stressful time for our seniors.”

Despite these concerns, she feels this is the right decision.

“Even though we are not in school, the teachers are still here to help,” said Cramer in er message to parents and students. “Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.”

Dillon Oney, another social studies teacher at the high school, said he misses seeing his students, and not being in the classroom has changed his daily routine.

But among the positives, he’s learned a lot from the district technology team about hosting discussions online.

“I’ve gotten to see some really interesting ways to utilize online resources from my colleagues,” said Oney, adding, “and I can brew my own coffee at home.”

He also believes the state is taking the appropriate measures during this time.

“Our number-one priority has to be the safety of our students and the facilities themselves,” he said. “The one thing we can control is the environment we create in the building; if there is illness running rampant, we lose that control, in turn creating an ill-equipped learning environment.”

While he, and other teachers, believe there was no way they could’ve prepared for something like this, he appreciates the patience of the community, and the hard work at the students’ and parents’ end.

“Knowing that the community is there and stepping up in a positive way makes this more meaningful and easier on all fronts,” he said.

Jennifer Hatfield, a psychology and modern world history teacher, misses her students, but said in regards to canceling classes, “It’s in the best interest of controlling the spread. The biggest danger is overwhelming our hospitals, and even if students are not at high risk of catching the virus, they can still be a carrier and give it to the more vulnerable.”

Lauren Spiers, an art teacher, worked hard to design digital and print material to distribute to the students, and now is currently strategizing how to monitor and assist the assignments through electronic means.

But that’s not the only thing Spiers has had to be creative in.

“I teach art. Most of my classes involve very hands-on activities that require demonstrations, practice, and a variety of materials,” said Spiers. “I have had to be inventive with getting materials to students, such as sending home take-home packs of clay.”

Some assignments were “impossible” to send to the students’ home.

“We had to pause our work in favor of a more easily accessible project for everyone in different circumstances,” she said.

Also, like a lot of teachers, she misses her students.

“I enjoy interacting with my students and seeing their work/ideas in action,” she said.

But during this time, she’s been able to work on curriculum in a new and different way and has learned new online strategies that she previously hadn’t relied on, like Google hangouts and Screencastify.

“I feel this will help in the future when I need to provide video/online content to students,” she said.

With schools being canceled — which she agrees with doing — she wishes for students and parents to know they’re taking it seriously. Also, teachers are in constant communication to figure out the best way to support them during this time.

“We talk frequently about the stresses and demands this places on everyone involved, and how we can mitigate any of these stresses. We are in it with you. We all need to work together, and we will end up an even stronger community,” she said.


By John Hamilton