In this time of virtual school, the teachers here at Godwin are working many additional hours to create virtual lessons, grade assignments, and further their technology skills.
These hours worked by the teachers are all for the benefit of the Godwin students. Although this hard work is helpful to students, it can cause teachers to have a long and tiring day.
Tenth-grade health and physical education teacher Penny Stevens is one of many teachers that is working hard to create an effective virtual classroom.
Stevens begins her day at 4:00 to 4:30 a.m., and she uses the first 30 minutes of the day for prayer time.
Stevens said, “I can’t think of a better way to start each day than starting my day in prayer with God.”
After this prayer time of thanking God for her family and their health, she then spends one hour focusing on her health by exercising.
During this time, she runs and walks. Stevens finds this time quiet, making it a perfect time to pray. Stevens said, “Praying and running with God always fills me with hope and I feel God’s strength for whatever the day might bring.”
Stevens is one of the teachers that has the opportunity to work in the Godwin building. She arrives at school at 7:00 a.m.
Her workspace for the day has been previously prepared the day before.
Stevens said, “I never want to disappoint my students, so if I am not prepared [for the next school day] before I leave school, I can’t sleep at night.”
She teaches first, second, third, fifth, and sixth periods and she has fourth period planning and seventh period off.
During her breaks throughout the day, she said “I like to get up and move around the room or walk down the hall.”
Virtual teaching has forced Stevens to stay seated for the majority of the day, contrasting an in-person day of school for the health and physical education teacher.
After her day of teaching, Stevens spends three to four hours looking over the lessons she taught that day and evaluating how she can make the lesson more meaningful for the classes she teaches the next day.
According to Stevens, having to create a weekly planner can be restrictive in what she is teaching, but she is happy to do whatever her students enjoy and what is best for them.
During this time, Stevens also grades assignments, answers questions for clarification from students, and sends emails to parents and students if needed.
“The last thing I do before I go home is to practice the computer skills that I need to fine-tune my delivery for what I am presenting the next day or later that week,” said Stevens. “Because I am not a naturally gifted computer person, all afternoon and evening are spent trying to better my skills on the computer and practicing presenting my lessons virtually.”
Stevens claims her lack of technical ability has given her a disadvantage during this time, but she is willing to work and improve to continue teaching.
After leaving school around 8:00 p.m., Stevens said, “My favorite thing to do is spend time with my children and grandchildren.”
When Stevens arrives home after a long day, she eats dinner between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.
Stevens says that her goal is to go to bed at 10:00 p.m., but since school has begun, she has been going to sleep from 10:30 to 11:00 p.m.
“The most difficult part of online teaching is not getting to see the radiant eyes and beautiful smiles of each of my students,” said Stevens.
She says that it is difficult to not see instant feedback in the eyes of her students, their smiles that encourage her to continue the lesson, or facial expressions acknowledging what she had just taught.
Stevens also says that it has been more difficult connecting and building trust with her students through a screen.
Stevens said, “It is important that I present myself as someone my students can always trust and believe in especially since most 10th grade health units contain information that will influence them for the rest of their lives.”
In teaching physical education, Stevens encourages students to create a personalized fitness plan for themselves. This a plan that targets what students want to obtain in a timeframe that works best for them.
According to Stevens, her passion for the content she teaches has remained strong throughout virtual school.
“My value in the material I present and my love of trying to make a positive influence in my student’s lives remains the same,” said Stevens.
Photo courtesy Penny Stevens