As a response to Covid-19 West Catholic Prep was closed on March 16th. The following Tuesday the school rolled out a virtual learning environment where students would “attend” all their classes each day through video. This would let students keep some sort of consistency and normalcy in their daily routine. It would also allow teachers to continue to drive academic instruction. This post is part of a series profiling the school’s response to Covid-19 and how it has impacted its students, faculty and staff.
When Mrs. Kelly Foley, a member of the schools English department, heard the school would be closed due to Covid-19 she wasn’t sure what online teaching would look like. She’s quickly realized it requires just as much work as being in the classroom each day. With online teaching Mrs. Foley feels like her days very much mimic a traditional classroom, spending her day “planning for classes, and setting up documents, videos, and responding to student work.”
While the way the material is being looked at is different, the content itself has not changed. “We have Zoom meetings and online discussions; students can send me work or comments and questions about their work; and that the work of class, even reading as difficult as Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, can continue.” Said Mrs. Foley.
Of course, teachers and students are learning something that is entirely new. According to Mrs. Foley, being honest with students and admitting that you are trying something new helps them buy into the process. “It’s good for them to see I am still learning as a teacher, that my plans don’t always work out either, but when it doesn’t work it doesn’t need to shut us down.”
This shift to online learning has of course presented unique challenges; multiple students in a home sharing a computer for instance, but in many ways students have not had to skip a beat. Mrs. Foley has been inspired with the grit and determination of West Catholic Prep students, and the resiliency they are showing during what is a difficult time. Often, when students are absent from class, they will email Mrs. Foley to explain why they were not able to attend “That really says they are concerned about their education and considerate of our time together”.
Something else that has inspired Mrs. Foley has been the response of the faculty and staff at West Catholic. “The faculty and staff are always interested in the well-being of the students. We want to help; we want the students to achieve. We are rising to this challenge in order to do the best we can for the educational, emotional and spiritual growth of our students.”
According to Mrs. Foley, the most important thing is that we continue to support each other. She shared a story recently of a student who missed an assignment and was very upset. The parents reached out to Mrs. Foley to let her know that the student has recently been feeling overwhelmed. “That same day my daughter who is home from college shared with me that she has been feeling anxious. We all need to take a step back and be considerate of each other. Every student is someone’s child. We can work together to help one another through this time.”