By Megan Wehring
HAYS COUNTY — Teachers have a greater responsibility this year when it comes to teaching both virtual and in-person students. Some are learning alongside the students to ensure they are well-versed in the technology.
The Hays CISD Board of Trustees discussed the effect virtual learning on teachers in the district at the Oct. 19 meeting. Managing grades and assignments in two different systems while finding time for lesson plans is looking to be a challenge, Board President Will McManus said.
“I think we are asking an extraordinary amount from our teachers to do that,” said McManus, referring to manually inputting grades. “If I am trying to teach virtual, in-person and get all of this new stuff figured out, plus now I got to go over here and manually type in grades.”
Hays CISD adopted the Learning Management System (LMS) of Schoology this year. Schoology has a rubric graded assessment that has a default version or one that allows for edits, Derek McDaniel said, director of curriculum and instruction for the district.
“We are hoping that will help teachers grade a little bit quicker using the rubric feature,” McDaniel told the Board of Trustees.
In previous years, teachers have planned lessons in-person with teachers in the same grade level and subject. Collaborating with other teachers in the district needs to be a goal for the spring semester, according to McDaniel.
Teachers are expected to provide instruction for both in-person and virtual students with computers that are not equipped with cameras or microphones, according to Board President Esperanza Orosco.
“Teachers are having to spend out of pocket for cameras for their computers, microphones and headsets to make sure that students can hear them,” Orosco told the Trustees. “I know a lot of teachers have purchased already the bare minimum they can get or using their own personal laptops.”
Students have been addressing their concerns that they are unable to hear their teacher during virtual learning. Orosco also questioned how the district will provide the necessary resources for teachers.
Dianne Borreson, chief technology officer, clarified that campuses have been purchasing the camera and microphone resources. Borreson also added that the quality will depend on where the teacher is standing in the classroom because the cameras are not high-resolution.
“Almost all of the mobile devices on the campuses have built-in cameras like all of the iPads, Chromebooks,” Borreson said. “Where they are asking for additional cameras is if they have a desktop that doesn’t have a built-in webcam with the microphone so it is kind of a two in one. We have been providing those.”
Orosco said there needs to be a minimum standard for the quality of education that each student receives, no matter which campus they attend.
“I don’t want just one campus that had PTA purchased AirPods and cameras for all their teachers,” Orosco said. “I don’t want those students to get a different education than somebody who didn’t have that opportunity and teachers are buying a $15 camera from Walmart because that’s all they can afford to buy.”