Michael Agostinho is a history teacher at Legend High School in Parker and an executive board member of the Douglas County Federation, the local teachers’ union in the Douglas County School …
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Michael Agostinho is a history teacher at Legend High School in Parker and an executive board member of the Douglas County Federation, the local teachers’ union in the Douglas County School District. Here are Agostinho’s thoughts on the district’s switch back to remote learning, which will begin Nov. 30.
How have preparations for remote learning been going?
Honestly, switching back to remote teaching has been OK due to the systems we already had in place at Legend High School. We were already using the online platform Canvas, creating class homepages and weekly Google docs for the students to follow. Even back in August, I was planning for the worst because I expected to be fully remote at some point this semester. It’s the nature of pandemics, and it’s unfortunate how bad this wave has been. Unfortunately, the systems in place could not sustain the rising number of cases in the state and also in Douglas County.
What issues are most top of mind for educators during this transition?
The issue myself, my colleagues and DCF feel is the same: We miss the kids. I feel for them all, but especially the freshmen and the seniors. Everyone has dealt with a great deal of uncertainty this year with daily changes becoming the norm.
As remote teachers, the learning continues as we head into the holiday season. We have a plan in place for finals, and hopefully cases will reach a peak, trend down, and then we can get back to at least a Hybrid model in January 2021. The bright side is that eventually things WILL get back to normal!
How are you helping students during this time?
Myself and my colleagues have also been working hard to connect with our students. Sometimes, just asking them how their day is going is a great way to start class. It is nice to see their faces without masks as well. On Nov. 18 and 19, I am going to end each class with having each student put their favorite food/Thanksgiving activity in the chat. A little normalcy will feel pretty good right about now.
What supports are available to educators during this time?
The union has been there to support staff dealing with mental stress and strain. They have also supplied resources to improve all of our media literacy in order to separate fact from fiction.
Lastly, teachers are grieving the loss of this semester as we wanted it to be. It’s not what any of us wanted, but as interim Superintendent Corey Wise explained very well in the Nov. 10 board meeting, this is necessary as the system just can’t continue to function under these circumstances.
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