Hitting Their Stride
Mimi Stanton

I have never felt more wanted as a teacher,” said Mr. Scott Piersma, high school math teacher, remembering the March 13 reaction from his class after hearing that Timothy would transition to home learning. “The kids had so many questions and concerns – ‘How are we going to do this? We can’t do this without you.’”

Admittedly, Mr. Piersma said he had a few doubts of his own. “It was a bit daunting at first because it is a complete change from how we have taught in the past,” he said. “But now it doesn’t seem that crazy.”

Describing how his teaching has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Piersma said he spends less time on instruction because one video can be watched by multiple class sections. “I get through the material in 10-minute videos, which the kids then are able to go back and re-watch if need be,” he said.

Mr. Piersma is looking forward to returning to the classroom in the fall.

Because he no longer has in-person interaction with every student, Mr. Piersma said he spends significantly more time evaluating daily homework assignments and offering feedback. Online office hours enable students to ask for specific help.

Mr. Piersma helps keep his students on track by encouraging them to work during typical school hours. “I understand it’s tough for some students who may be responsible for babysitting their younger siblings while mom and dad have to work,” he said. “But for those who don’t have to juggle those variables, I like to see them keep somewhat to actual school hours.”

To date, feedback from students has been positive. “Kids have said that class feels the same — like they are still in the building. I take that as a compliment because I’m trying to make home learning feel as normal as I can.”

Even though Mr. Piersma believes that teachers and students have hit their stride in home learning, he is looking forward to returning to the classroom in the fall. “I really miss talking with the kids and class discussion, where we might lean into a topic in a way we didn’t expect,” Mr. Piersma said. “I even miss the banter back and forth before class begins.”

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