Virtual learning

San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District teachers Gordon Williams, above left, Alma Cavazos, above right, and not pictured David Olivarez discussed their online teaching experience this school year with News-Herald reporter Atzimba Morales.

As classes continue online for many students at San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District, a few teachers share how the online experience has been for them since classes started.

Gordon Williams, Alma Cavazos and David Olivarez teach high school, elementary and middle school students respectively at San Felipe Del Rio CISD.

While each teacher presents different subject matter for students to learn, all of them agreed internet connectivity, the WiFi not working during school hours and making sure students understand the material were some of the issues they’ve had to deal with this school year thus far.

These teachers had previous experience with online teaching. Even with the experience, Williams and Cavazos added it is a matter of patience and being compassionate with their students as they adjust during this time.

“You have to be flexible,” Cavazos said.

Cavazos added that every student’s home life is different, with examples such as younger siblings causing background noise during the class, some students sharing an electronic device with another sibling that needs speech therapy and issues logging into the class.

“I understood not all students had the same resources available to them, and did not want to penalize them,” Olivarez said, adding he allowed his students to redo assignments and quizzes during the first six weeks of class.

“This would allow a student who did not have a computer the first few weeks, to still complete the assignments and quizzes to earn full credit,” Olivarez said, “I wanted to ensure that all my students had an equal opportunity to succeed.”

While the idea of online classes is projected as students sitting in front of a computer screen, Williams added the lessons should be engaging for the students.

“If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong,” Williams said in regard to online classes, “Learning something is fun, but it’s not easy.”

Williams uses that mantra with students, as he teaches his students to find credible online sources, do the work right and tie the lessons with current scenarios such as the hurricanes, thus making sure his students are prepared for graduation.

All three teachers plan their lessons ahead of time, while making adjustments to the lessons due to online setting.

Cavazos is currently adjusting science material that includes lessons on volume, and any other interactive lessons.

“I am part of an amazing math department. We plan our lessons at least a week before. We stay in constant communication all hours of the day and night,” Olivarez said, “We gauge our students’ progress from one day to the next and update our lessons to fit the needs of all students, both in class and online.”

Williams added it takes him an hour of “teacher work” to have a lesson prepared, but if it takes him longer than that then he’s busy doing something else.

Williams added he misses having a physical classroom full of students, but education is important no matter the situation.

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