Live Mic: Honoring the Class of 2020: teaching online

May 22, 2020, 6:17 PM
start times high schools...
The principal of East High School is asking the community for help as they deal with a shortage of substitute teachers. (PHOTO: Kristin Murphy/The Deseret News via AP)
(PHOTO: Kristin Murphy/The Deseret News via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — Teaching online for the past couple of months has been challenging but the experience they gained during the coronavirus pandemic will be used by them when future obstacles arise, a Utah educator said. 

Brenda Kraack (pronounced Crock), an East High School math teacher and assistant softball coach, joins Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic to discuss the hurdles of teaching online and to offer advice to students and athletes.

“What’s been the biggest impact on teaching” during the crisis? Lee asked.

“Getting through that senioritis on their own. Senioritis plays a big role whether you’re in a pandemic or not. So trying to navigate that independent-learning motivation on your own I can imagine has been huge,” Kraack said.

sen·ior·i·tis /ˌsēnyəˈrīdəs/: (noun) a supposed affliction of students in their final year of high school or college, characterized by a decline in motivation or performance.

“How do you combat that senioritis?” Lee asked.

“Constant communication with them, constant checking in,” Kraack said, “but that’s part of the problem on the teachers’ end, too, because we can’t text them on their personal cellphone or things like that. So we will reach out to them, but then our hours are different.

“I don’t know if you’ve had many teenagers in your life. But when they’re free to run their own hours. Their hours are more like 1 p.m. to 3 a.m. Mine are not the same,” Kraack said.

Learn from experience

“What advice would you give to your own sons should they face this same situation?” Lee asked.

“To learn from what they’ve gone through this last couple of months,” she said. “For example, if you’re a high school senior, and you’re going on to college, how did online learning work for you?

“Many colleges and universities have online classes. Did that work for you or did it not work for you? Be cognizant of that when you’re registering for classes,” she advised. “Is in-person [learning] going to be better? Is online going to be better? That’s a huge learning advantage they got through this pandemic.”

Kraack also advised students to know who the essential workers were during the pandemic. If a second pandemic were to occur in their lifetimes, she said decide which one, essential or nonessential, you want to be if it does happen.

Challenges ahead

“What advice do you have for your athletes?” Lee asked.

“Just to remind them that they can do hard things. This was hard,” Kraack said. “It was hard for teachers, it was hard for students to find that motivation, but they are coming out on the other end. They are going to graduate. They are going to move forward.”

She said these students will find difficulty in the future, but they now know — having survived the worst of the pandemic — that they will persevere when they encounter those tough times that surely lie ahead.

Teaching remotely

“How has teaching been through all of this?” Lee asked.

“It’s hard. We got notice on a Friday afternoon at 4 o’clock that we’re not going to see students on that following Monday. Put your class online. It’s been difficult. Luckily, I’m technologically savvy. I’ve been able to work through it but not without its glitches.  

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure our kids are still learning and are taken care of . . . all the needs that we would do if we saw them in person.” Kraack said.

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.


Related articles:

West High School in Salt Lake City handing out laptops to students

Live Mic: High school senior navigates graduation, serious life challenges

Coronavirus drop out: Are online-only courses driving college students away?

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Live Mic: Honoring the Class of 2020: teaching online