Coronavirus Connections

How teacher and students stay in touch during COVID-19

Claire Powell, Staff Writer

Teaching Online

On March 17, 2020 Governor Laura Kelly held a press conference to officially close all Kansas schools for the rest of the year. Heartbroken, BVHS Laura Volz knew she wouldn’t have the seniors in her classroom ever again.

“I like what I teach, but it’s not the reason that I continue in the profession,” Volz said. “Interacting with my students every day is the reason why I love what I do. I was just sad to not be able to be in the classroom with them.”

A teacher who prides themselves in planning ahead, Volz was nervous for how her class would be taught for the rest of the year.

“I was slightly concerned over the loss of instructional time and about not being able to ensure the level of understanding that I like to make sure is present for each of my students,” Volz said. “I’ve never taught anything through a virtual method, so I was immediately faced with the challenge of having to figure this out.”

Volz holds two class sessions each week over a virtual chat platform known as Zoom. Her and the students spend that time to talk, catch up with each other and of course, learn math.

“If I can’t have my classroom in a physical space, I’m going to do my best to create a classroom in a virtual space,” Volz said. “I wanted to be able to bring my classes together and to see those same faces to talk like we would.”

The math teacher has discovered nice tricks on Zoom, allowing her to put students in their own smaller virtual chat rooms.

“I wanted [my students] to feel connected to me and to each other. The each other part of it is hard to facilitate with the whole class,” Volz said. “That’s kind of the reason why I like the breakout room — it’s an opportunity to connect with people that you wouldn’t otherwise.”

Although Zoom has been helpful for Volz to stay connected with her juniors and seniors, she can’t help notice what she’s lost from going to virtual environment.

“I [gave my students] time to work in class. I [would] walk around the room [to see] if everyone knows what they’re doing or just a couple of kids know it. Over Zoom, I don’t really have that opportunity,” Volz said. “Unless somebody asks a question or they come to office hours, I don’t have the ability to literally look over their shoulder and see if they’re doing things right.”

Not only does Volz strive to stay connected with her students, but also with her co-workers.

“On Fridays [principle Scott] Bacon hosts a faculty meeting at 9 a.m. that everyone attends. There’s like 140 teachers and staff that are present for that,” Volz said. “Before that meeting, the math department gets on a call at 8:30 a.m. for our own little breakfast session where we just eat breakfast and chat with each other.”

While Volz is not used to seeing everyone’s living rooms in the middle of the day, she said it doesn’t feel as odd she thought it would.

“The situation seems very different, but it seems so normal to still be talking to my students,” Volz said. “It hasn’t change how I talk to them, but I missed the in-person communication.”

Missing her class, Volz spends time at the end of Zoom sessions to chat with students.

“Having a window of opportunity at the end of a call to just talk is great. I will never forget when one of my students [showed] the class his chicken coop. It was awesome,” Volz said. “Having non-academic time to still relate to students has helped keep us connected.”

Even though Volz is grateful for the virtual chats and ability to stay connected through technology, her heart still goes out for the class of 2020.

“I think there are a lot of seniors that didn’t realize how much they were going to miss Blue Valley High until they were forced to lose it sooner than they expected. I imagine that some of that has a trickle down to the other grades,” Volz said. “When we are able to be back in the building together, I believe there will be a sense of school pride and togetherness.”

 

 

 

 

Drive-By Hellos

Because of CDC guidelines, it has become popular for people to drive by their friend’s house and wish them a happy birthday. On April 17 however a large group of Blue Valley students drove past junior Ari Burriss’s house for a more special reason: wishing Burriss the best before she flew for her next round of chemo the following day. The following are some photos taken at the event.