“I chose Pinewood because it seemed like a very kind and welcoming environment. The faculty spoke highly of their students, which communicated to me a sense of care,” Nikodem said.
Meeting hybrid head on
With Pinewood’s new hybrid layout, teachers need to adapt their teaching styles and overcome new difficulties that have arisen.
“It’s a lot different to be in front of the computer instead of students. I’m also very self-conscious as I record lectures, but I’m getting over it,” Cardenas said.
“Teaching virtually has definitely been a struggle and has forced me to change how my lessons would usually go, especially when it comes to group work,” Chang said.
“Teaching virtually has definitely been a struggle and has forced me to change how my lessons would usually go,” Chang said
Chang uses connections to popular music, entertainment, and games to keep students engaged during long Zoom classes.
Similarly, Hernandez appreciates some fun moments to keep his students alert during long Zoom sessions.
“I think the funniest moments are when a pet interrupts the zoom, and the student doesn't realize they aren't muted when talking to their pet in a funny voice,” Hernandez said.
Overall, Hernandez feels the transition to hybrid has been a success.
“The pandemic has really made my class more organized. With Notability, students can see me work out problems in real time just like a whiteboard, except it is way easier for me to color code and highlight important steps or information,” Hernandez said.
Wang works to create creative and unique lessons that balance synchronous and asynchronous work, which also encourages students to get out of their comfort zones and work efficiently. She has been using daily end of class reflections to improve her methods and get feedback on what is and is not working.
“The pandemic has really made my class more organized,” Hernandez said
For Rubalcaba, the most important element of teaching Spanish is the personal interaction with the students, where they practice speaking and correct pronunciations. In her case, teaching on Zoom is ideal because, in hybrid, masks interfere with watching the mouth movements for pronunciation.
“Of course, everything has changed, but not in the quality...we have figured how to overcome the difficulties,” Rubalcaba said.
Rubalcaba works to limit her students' Zoom time by assigning physical books for them to read, along with other assignments that do not require a screen. When she uses Zoom, she uses interactive games like Kahoot and Quizlet to keep her students engaged. They also enjoy laughing at commonly confused words, like pidió (I asked) and pedo (fart).
“Everything has changed, but not in the quality...we have figured how to overcome the difficulties,” Rubalcaba said
Steube works to make sure everyone participates, asks, and answers questions in the discussions stress-free.
“I...have my Spanish 1 classes come up with questions and ask each other. Everyone participates: ‘zoomers’ and in-person students,” Steube said.
Similarly, Nikodem’s classes are Socratic and are heavily reliant on student participation and engagement.
“There are good things, promising things, that I like to think [about]. This is just temporary,” Rubalcaba said
“There is an abundance of nonverbal communication that occurs during a discussion, and I feel like that is lost when conducting class remotely...but luckily my students are well practiced at calling one another into conversation,” Nikodem said.
After the holidays, the new teachers are all looking forward to 2021 and the return to a post-covid campus. Chang hopes to see everyone in person without masks after the pandemic, and Steube is looking forward to seeing everyones’ smiling faces. At the same time, Cardenas can not wait to break the routine of isolation. Hernandez is looking forward to eventually attending all the Pinewood events that he has heard about so much.
“We will have [a] vaccine. So, there are good things, promising things, that I like to think [about]. This is just temporary, and everything will get back to normal, maybe not immediately, but in summer or even after summer,” Rubalcaba said.