First-year teacher shares insight about teaching during the pandemic |

First-year teacher shares insight about teaching during the pandemic

Jessica Miles
Updated: May 18, 2021 06:41 PM
Created: May 18, 2021 04:48 PM

Social studies teacher Renee Anick is going over directions as some of her Wolf Creek Online High School students prepared to take an end-of-the-year assessment online.

This is her first year of teaching, jumping right into it in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"What we thought (coming out of college) we were going to do versus what we’re actually doing are two very different things," Anick said. "So it was much harder at first than what it is at this point in the year."

Wolf Creek has been doing hybrid learning for years, combining in-person classes with virtual classes, something traditional high schools were forced to offer this year for safety reasons.

But even for this school, there were learning curves.

"Trying to figure out how to connect with them in the best ways, and how to make contact with them, how Google meets work the best when you’re trying to explain different concepts, and things like that," Anick describes.

"We’re going to keep a lot of the lessons that we learned as we move forward from this time," said Tracy Quarnstrom, director of Wolf Creek Online High School.

Quarnstrom says some of the lessons learned for Wolf Creek led to virtual study halls and mental health check-ins.

"We have seen that increase by 50% or 60%, with students saying I feel much more comfortable seeing a licensed mental health therapist if I can just hop online from my home," Quarnstrom explains.

Quarnstrom has learned of 50 new applicants wanting to offer virtual school options following this school year and is hopeful they are high-quality programs offering flexibility in education.

"We know going forward the virtual landscape is going to look different, families are going to want options and choices," she said.

"Students seeing that they can learn online, it’s going to be very beneficial for a lot of students," Anick adds.

Wolf Creek is preparing to graduate about 40 students in a matter of weeks with an outdoor graduation ceremony.

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