Best of the Week 2019-2020: Excellence in College Prep
ST. ED'S FACULTY RALLIES TOGETHER TO CREATIVELY ENGAGE STUDENTS ONLINE
Although holding classes for students online can cause some challenges, St. Ed's faculty and staff have rallied together to create workspaces and innovative opportunities to help students engage and interact with their coursework at home. "Students have already risen up to the challenge of being engaged in their online content," says Dean of Students Mr. Mark Urban. "Our faculty is diligently refining virtual content and a number of teachers have already used additional online platforms to streamline instruction and offer face-to-face feedback for students." With Google Hangout sessions, online resources through PowerSchool and social media, and video problem-solving, faculty have not only found ways to meet the needs of their students and to help keep them engaged with their curriculum, but have also found a way to positively impact and connect with each other.
Science teacher Mrs. Amanda Nugent started a "Where Are You Working" email chain, asking faculty and staff members to share photos of their home office setups to unify each other through this transition period. "I was setting up my unusual workspace and I just got to thinking what other people were doing to carve out a space in their homes to teach," says Mrs. Nugent. "I thought it was funny that my workspace is in this undesirable part of my unfinished basement next to the furnace, but as the days have gone on, I've really started to like my little desk and will probably keep this setup for myself moving forward. This spot has given me a sense of normalcy and routine in days that feel anything but normal. I think it's important to show our students where we are working, so they can see no one has a perfect setup and that we're all working with what we have to keep the learning going. As faculty, we are used to seeing each other every day, so it's nice to share where each of us is working and how adaptable we all have become. We're all working so hard to keep things moving forward. There is a ton of communication between everyone with ideas of best practices, questions about how to best present information and asking each other for feedback about what is working and not working in terms of our approaches to our classes. We are all trying to be flexible and understanding and we want to pass that on to our students as well."
Inspired by Mrs. Nugent's idea, Theology Department Chair Mr. Chris Merriman started a "Haiku" email chain among faculty and staff, offering a creative break for colleagues to write poems about what they're doing. "The haiku idea was a combo of appreciating the response to Mrs. Nugent's email and text messages between me and Language Acquisition Department Chair Mrs. Lisa Hardin," says Mr. Merriman. "I wrote the first haiku that started it all while sitting outside on a break from my computer and being inside my house, and then thought that others might want to do the same. I was curious to see what they would write and if I could share in their experiences. Keeping communication through email, text, etc. about schoolwork and also personal struggles that come with teaching, parenting, and social distancing have been helpful." In addition to providing outlets for communication, positivity and creativity, St. Ed's faculty and staff continues to show their commitment to our students' education during this time and their ingenuity to create an online learning environment that is rigorous and engaging for Edsmen.
"We need connections like this to make us laugh and keep our hearts light. It's too easy to get sucked into the news and the anxiety. I think it's a testament to our faculty that we can express ourselves both creatively and with humor, while at the same time inventing novel ways to engage with students," says Mrs. Hardin. "The outpouring of shared resources and good ideas that are flowing back and forth electronically is abundant. Everybody really seems to be pulling together to try and create the best situation possible for our students so they don't fall behind. It's amazing and humbling and truly a blessing to be part of this faculty."