Teaching teams collaborate in blended learning

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Walnut Hills High School seventh graders came back to school April 6th. Teachers had one day prep in anticipation for their arrival.

The classrooms at WHHS are now filled with students as teachers begin their days by turning on their Owls. 

Nicholas Sabet, a middle school English Teacher describes his average day.

“I’ll try to make sure the camera devices are working. That helps a lot in helping the google meet students see me across the room. Then the microphone helps the students hear me. [I] divide my time equally, check the Google Meet chat and make sure I see if they have any questions or concerns. Whatever work we do in class I make it accessible not only for the students in class but for those online as well,” Sabet said. 

Sabet is one of the members of a seventh-grade team that is used to help middle schoolers ease into the difficulties of coming into a new school. The three classes, Latin, English, and social studies, help guide early adolescents through homework, friends, and middle school in general. This cycle, however, was suddenly disrupted when school was changed to online and now has been broken again by blended learning. 

Many teams have often relied on each other through this new transition by helping provide community and clarity to each other during blended learning.  It has been a long year but communicating has been essential to this development. 

“This is my first year at Walnut but already I’ve felt supported by my peers here and my fellow teachers. I feel supported by my teams. It’s a positive that we banded together and decided to do what’s best for our kids,” Sabet said. 

One of the problems they face is trying to figure out how to adjust to their new roles as teams and what teams are supposed to do and what they’re allowed to do. 

Michelle Martinez, a seventh-grade Latin teacher, talks about how she and her teams have been adjusting easier for her online and in-person kids. 

“We have a shared Google Sheet with our students from each class. All of our seventh graders have one place where they can go to. To see what’s going on with Latin, social studies, and English. We definitely try to collaborate and make sure that we aren’t assigning too big of projects on the same day or the same weekend. So that’s been helpful for a lot of our students in terms of talking to each other with our priorities and timing,” she said.  

Teams also have to figure out how to balance the amount of attention that students are getting from teachers. Due to the accessibility of the students in the classroom, there may be more preferential treatments. Teachers, however, are careful to make sure that no one group isn’t getting sidelined. 

“You know we have 11 kids remote, so we don’t know how to do that and make them feel included. Traditionally we would take kids outside or we would…do some award day. I’m not really sure, but that’s where we’re stuck right now is managing both…..We’ve prepared by just essentially communicating, and making sure we’re consistent with our parents and our kids,” seventh grade English teacher, Elizabeth Thelen, says. 

Despite that, they have overcome many issues that are put ahead of them. The goal of helping guide kids during blended learning still remains the same and hopefully will continue to next year. 

As Sabet has said, “[the goal for teams is] a chance for community, depending on how different teams are organized, activities and more of a chance for students to get to know one another more closely and have a certain set of teachers that helps them.”