Kathy Topping’s Class Creates New Chemistry

in 2019-20 School Year/Current Issue/Innovative Teaching

I never imagined that I would end my career teaching my students from my home.  When I started this job we didn’t have computers and even calculators were not normally used.  We printed all the material we gave students using a mimeograph machine.  Now I spend my weeks making youtube videos to teach lessons and demonstrate labs.  I use zoom to make visual contact with my students as they work on chemistry problems.  They use their cell phones to take a photo of their answers and email them to me.  I open them, download them, take a picture and make corrections using software on my computer and email them back.  I have tried to make the process as similar to the system they used when we were together as possible, but everything for all of us takes longer.

I am so proud of my students.  They have shown themselves to be resilient.  They have found ways to stay organized.  At school everything was organized for them.  Now they do this for themselves with the help of their parents.  At school, I could help them stay motivated when they faced a setback.  Now they do this for themselves.  They reach out to get help from me when they need it.  They have found ways to cope with unreliable internet.  I have one student who made an office in the back of his car.  He drives to the local elementary school to connect to the wifi because it doesn’t work that well at home.  My students still help each other.  They haven’t given up on their learning – they are finding ways to cope.  I am so proud of this group and I hope the community is proud of them also.

How have you been able to stay organized?

Kilee Rolland – The biggest task I’ve put myself on is organization everyday. No matter what time it is I am going to make sure everything is organized when I wake up for the day and put back in its place before I go to bed! 

Carmen Gallagher – I use my phone alarm, to remind myself to get ready for each zoom call. Depending on the amount of zoom calls I have per day, I have come up with a schedule of when I will complete my assignments.  On days when I have 1-2 zoom calls, I get most of my homework done and then have more time for myself for the rest of the week.  I always make a list of my assignments and the due dates, to decide which I will start working on first. 

Madison Roberge – In terms of staying organized, I’ve been creating systems for myself and using a planner. An example of this is I’ve been paperclipping the things I’ve sent into you together, and then paper-cliping together the things I have left to do. 

How have you been able to stay motivated?

Kilee Rolland – Staying motivated has been a real struggle at points, but honestly I’m always ahead and I think that’s what keeps me pushing through this hard time and staying on a routine and task makes me work harder everyday.

Noah McLane – For me it is the goal of getting into a good college in the future and ensuring I have all my proficiency’s hit in each class. 

Delanee Hill –  I stay motivated to do work, by trying to get it all done as quickly as possible so I can have the rest of the week to do whatever I want.

Madison Roberge – My primary motivation is honestly graduation. As well as that I know the sooner I finish my work the sooner I get to summer, specifically in lab!

What have you done when you get confused?

Kilee Rolland – There have been confusing time’s because we aren’t face to face, but thank god for email, Kathy you’ve definitely been the most helpful teacher throughout this entire process and have been willing to work with all of us, so thank you for that.

Noah McLane –  I have been pretty good I feel at reaching out to my teachers and setting up meetings or a conference to go over what I need to do in order to get the best quality of work.

Madison Roberge – I’ll send you emails if I’m confused and at one point we had a zoom call together so you could explain things further. Of course, face to face communication and feedback is preferred but I’m very grateful our school already had the financial resources for each student to have a Chromebook during this time.

How have you been able to help each other?

Kilee Rolland – Us as classmates are also able to still make contact over social media if we need help which is very nice at points if we don’t want to go right to the teacher.

How are you feeling about how much you are learning?

Kilee Rolland –I think everything I’m learning is going to be helpful there are things that are of course boring but I find that I’m in a better mindset right now with my school work, like I want to learn.

What is the best thing about remote learning?

Kilee Rolland – The best thing about remote learning I would have to say would be, being able to get things done on our own time. So for me it’s been Mondays I can everything done I possibly can except for things that don’t get posted so I’m not stressed throughout the week.

Delanee Hill – The best thing about remote learning is that I get to sleep in.

What is the hardest thing about remote learning?

Kilee Rolland – The hardest thing is definitely not being able to see people and all of my friends. Junior year is something we shouldn’t take for granted because everyone is in their own schedule and routine before graduation. So right now it’s been tough to not go through this with others by our side.

Nathaniel Rice – Honestly, the hardest thing about online learning is that it lacks all the charm and social intricacies of school. Like yeah, you can “see’ your friends, but is is it really “seeing” your friends? I don’t think so.  

Andrew Rice – “The hardest thing about remote learning is that it stunts real connection between students and teachers. You used to be able to go into their rooms for extra help, and you’d have that face-to-face interaction which helped me personally quite a bit. Now, you have less time to go to a teacher’s office hours, and because of remote learning, you never know what might happen that makes you miss those times. You could sleep in too late, you could be preoccpied with a family thing – who knows?”

Carmen Gallagher– Just being out of the classroom, has been difficult. When needing help on the new material, it becomes more challenging to fully understand without having your teacher in the same room, to explain. Thankfully, my teachers have been very understanding and helpful when situations become difficult. 

Madison Roberge – The hardest thing about remote learning aside from being on the computer all day is that we’re missing the student-teacher connections. Of course, everyone is doing their best with zoom but it’s just not the same.