Moving forward

Academic dean, principal, and teacher reflect on first semester and share plans for second

Math+teacher+Troy+Wyant+instructs+his+second+period+students+both+online+and+face-to-face.

Tim Tschoepe

Math teacher Troy Wyant instructs his second period students both online and face-to-face.

Catherine Diel, Social Media Manager

Created with Canva (Catherine Diel)

Hybrid instruction this past fall semester left staff and students with questions on how spring semester will go. This was the first time teachers have had split classrooms, with some students face-to-face and others online.

“It was a challenging process for our teachers because we had never done this type of instruction at SVHS,” principal Michael Wahl said. “We learned that having an organized Google Classroom is essential. Secondly, having more daily live Google Meets classes is the most effective way to teach this type of hybrid model.”

Teachers and coaches had to learn about the use of technology and Google Classroom, and some changed the whole structure of their classes. Shanika Randle, who teaches Algebra I, Teen Leadership while coaching softball and basketball, flipped her classroom: students watch video notes before class and work on an enrichment activity during class.

“This semester, I tweaked my videos to recording a class period instead of a pre-recorded video, so that students could hear the questions that their peers asked as well,” Randle said.  

Challenges, such as high failure rates and attendance issues, are now being worked on. One change the school is making is communicating to families about the importance of attending assigned Google Meets classes and alerting families when their student is not present in the call.

“[W]e had more students absent from class in the first semester than we are used to,” Wahl said. “The calls home this semester have helped alert parents that their child is not attending class when they should be. We have seen an increase in our daily attendance rate this semester.”

With face-to-face instruction being the easiest way for most students to learn, about 20 percent of students failed at least one class fall semester; however, the counselors are working on credit recovery to ensure students can catch up. Academic Dean Sally Bratton spoke of the “Zero Hour” credit, which will help students recover credits without sacrificing a period of their schedule. Teachers are helping students back on track, presenting information on how they can pass if their second semester average is high enough: a 70 or higher. Students who need summer school will receive help from counselors on rearranging their academic progress.

“With increased failure rates, we know summer school will be important,” Bratton said. “We are confident that by working with every student to create a success plan, all Rangers will reach their goal of graduation.”

“We are confident that by working with every student to create a success plan, all Rangers will reach their goal of graduation.””

— Sally Bratton

Some teachers are using their online platforms, such as Google Classroom or Canvas, to collect student work and grades are being taken the same way as the first semester. 

Bratton shared her experience as an English teacher for 20 years and emphasized how amazing the SVHS teachers are in that they “have not only endured, but they have continued to learn and lead with grace, energy and passion.” She described them as amazing and resilient.  She has also seen students working harder and adjusting to new expectations.

“We are all a work in progress, but overall, we have made great strides since the start of the pandemic,” Bratton said.

The school will continue trying to optimize hybrid learning and its effectiveness for all students and staff. 

“It’s hard—but we are moving forward one step at a time,” Bratton said. “Summer will be a welcome break for all.”