Spanish teachers keep their students focused

Instructors credit summer school instruction, spring schedule

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Ava Amos

Spanish teacher Mrs. Kim Jamell said she uses various strategies to keep her online students focused.

Kahmara Munn, Reporter

Foreign language for some students may have been thought of as one of the more challenging courses to take online, but teachers have kept their students motivated and ready to learn.

Spanish I, II and III teacher Mrs. Karen Hovanec said, “I probably have a little bit of an advantage because (online instruction is) communication and we can still communicate really easily during Zoom.” Hovanec has taught for 25 years and says that Covid is the most consequential event of her teaching career. “I think not only will I remember (Covid) as a teacher, I think you guys as students will remember it forever,” she added.

Teachers have found ways to keep their students focused in class while having in mind possible distractions.

Hovanec said that she knows that staying on task during class can be a struggle, so she has applied new strategies to keep students’ attention. Hovanec said, “I was asking (Spanish III) questions and every time someone would answer I’d put a sticker on my face and they were all like (confused), but they were all paying attention.”

Spanish I and II teacher Mrs. Kim Jamell said, “I think that forming a community with (students will help and) if they think Spanish is fun, then they’ll come back, and if they think it’s useful, they’ll come back, so both of those things are what I’m trying to make it. “

Spanish students have said that learning virtually hasn’t given them any problems at all.

Sophomore Kamryn Smith, who is enrolled in one of Hovanec’s Spanish II classes, said that learning Spanish online is not difficult. She said that her class does more Kahoot! activities. She said, “It’s fun and it makes me want to learn.”

Freshman Taylor Lewis, who is also enrolled in one of Hovanec’s Spanish I classes, said that the work loads are less. She said, “I like how the teachers are compensating with how, since we’re not in school, they’re making adjustments.”

Both teachers talked about the benefit of having experience from teaching online last semester.

Hovanec and Jamell both said they feel that they have an advantage being virtual this year. Hovanec previously taught online for seven years. She said, “I have online teaching experience. I was an online student. I think that helps, too, that I have experienced both sides of (teaching and learning online).”

On top of that, Hovanec said that Mission Mondays also greatly influenced her online teaching. She said, “The fact that we had Mission Mondays this whole year really, I think, helps because people are used to going from class to class, from Zoom to Zoom, and I think that’s going to help us a lot.”

Jamell taught summer school last June and said that she was glad that she did. It gave her more practice to teach online and now helps her be more structured during class. She said, “In the spring it was new to teachers, new to kids. The technology was new and we were all learning all of that. I taught summer school this year, and I’m so glad I did.”

But Jamell said she feels that forming relationships with students is a key part of education and is easier to perform in person.

“You have to spend some time, really much more intentional time, trying to form a community. That’s a big thing for me anyway. I like for my classes to know each other, but I think that’s the thing we miss online sometimes,” Jamell said. “I think that’s really critical online, because I think it’s what keeps kids wanting to come back.”

Even though online teaching and learning did not seem to cause many problems, both teachers said they are ready for in-person instruction again and can’t wait to see their students’ faces.