How Teachers are Managing Both Online and In-person Classes

Liberty staff shares how they are educating both online and on-site throughout the pandemic.

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As classes are resuming full time, teachers everywhere are having to teach both online and on-site. Numerous Liberty teachers are having to do this as well. Teaching both methods can be a struggle for teachers in many different ways, including adapting to both teaching environments, connecting with students, and more.
Shishonee Hughes, science, shared her opinion on teaching both types of classes.
¨I have five chemistry classes: four in person and one online. It’s a struggle because the online and on-site schedules are different and to help kids, you have to go through three different schools, not just one. Additionally, because I teach all the same classes, it gets really confusing, as my online class is in a different place than my in-person class, and keeping the two classes straight is super challenging. With being in both worlds, I don’t get the appropriate prep time nor the amount of office hours that other teachers or just online teachers have,¨ she stated.
There are many challenges teachers are continuing to face when trying to teach these two very different styles of learning. Math teacher Tom Eilers shared some of his struggles.
¨I have three classes in-person and two online. Attendance and engagement are always a struggle, and this has been intensified by online learning. There are lots of resources available for online learners that they would not otherwise have, but there are also an increasing amount of distractions that are also there. Both of these things are visible daily in either learning model,” he says.
Kedibona Ochs, English, shared his pandemic teaching experience and identified a different type of struggle besides planning and distractions.
¨Making connections to students who are online is a struggle because you often just see a black box with a name [because students don’t turn on their cameras]. But I think, even bigger than that, is not knowing if you’re connecting to those ‘black boxes’. With in-person students, even when wearing masks, you can read their body language and gauge how the students are feeling. Online kids can give a thumbs up with their ceiling fan on the screen, but we just have to trust that our message has been received. With in-person learning, the biggest challenge is trying to spread all this love/joy/care I have in my heart to this amazing community at Liberty!¨

With in-person students, even when wearing masks, you can read their body language and gauge how the students are feeling.”

— Kedibona Ochs

Hughes and Ochs both told how they continue to reduce the challenges with teaching in the classroom and over a computer.
¨I think just being open with the students online and building that trust and respect for one another has helped a lot and I’ll continue doing that because I do see an online family with my 3rd period class. While in-person, I just keep giving my all to the students, acknowledging their success and challenges; and reassuring them that we are together in this journey!¨ said Ochs.
Hughes noted that, ¨Honestly, if I were teaching an entirely different class online that would help. So, chemistry in-person and Earth and Space for example online…it would be easier to keep the two worlds separate than it is now. It would also be much easier if all my online kids were Liberty kids, so I had one school to connect them with.¨
Gregg Shoultz, director of online learning, provided more insight on why teachers are having to teach both types.
¨The district is obligated to provide classes to students and it employs teachers to teach these classes. With online now being an option, students could request to learn either at a school or virtually. The job of the administration is to find the most efficient way to line up the teachers with the classes that need to be taught. Just as we sometimes have teachers assigned to both Liberty and North Central, we sometimes need to have teachers teach online and at an on site location. Basically, we need to have the teachers go to wherever there is need. This is happening quite a bit this year and it will continue to occur next year, but with many fewer teachers being impacted. The online program will be much smaller next year than it is this year.¨
Teachers are currently teaching both types of classes as the school year and the pandemic continues. Flexibility is very important with both teachers and students as new challenges continue to arise. Looking into what the future holds, there seems to be the strong possibility that teachers will continue to teach for both in-person and online classes. ICCSD is asking teachers who are interested in teaching for the all-online high school next year to apply but the likelihood is those teachers will also be teaching a mix of both in-person classes while also teaching online ones.