Burrell School District’s 2020-2021 Health and Safety Plan is requiring teachers to offer lessons both in the classroom and virtually, and many teachers, like Mr. Bryan Mike, have spent the summer getting ready.
Mr. Mike, a biology teacher who is celebrating his 25th year with the district, calls this upcoming year “very different.”
“In other years, I had a pretty good idea what I was going to do,” said Mr. Mike. “My preparations were just to get my room ready. This year, I have had to create different documents, change documents to fit the virtual model, and will have to prepare my Google Classrooms (I have 6 classes, so 6 Classrooms).”
So far, Mr. Mike has spent hours converting paper files to PDFs and Google Suite documents so he can share them with students at home. He’s also earned his Google Classroom certification, a step that Superintendent Dr. Shannon Wagner requested all teachers to complete as part of the District's Comprehensive Plan.
“Teachers instructing both in face-to-face and virtual environments — no teacher in Pennsylvania has been asked to do that before,” said Dr. Wagner. “We are asking teachers to go above and beyond what they are typically asked to do.”
Because of the new setup, Mr. Mike has plans to alter his teaching style to be more online-friendly. He will use his district-provided Chromebook to be on Google Meet with students while using his personal laptop to project information on the board during class.
“Normally, I would stand there, teach a lesson from PowerPoint, interact with the students by asking questions or relating stories,” said Mr. Mike. “Now, we are going to try more of a flipped-classroom approach. The students will watch a pre-recorded video of the lesson and come to class ready to discuss the lesson, then jump into activities and virtual labs.”
It’s not just teaching that Mr. Mike is preparing for. He’s also taking steps to keep himself and students safe, including purchasing a box of face masks, a face shield, and sanitary wipes. He plans on sanitizing between every class and wearing nursing scrubs and Crocs that can be easily cleaned.
Mr. Mike is just one of many teachers preparing for the upcoming year and going above and beyond for his students.
“We anticipate a huge learning curve for staff, but they’re very talented and they’ll be able to rise to the challenge,” said Dr. Wagner.