BY EMILY MORENO
Last year was a unique year for teachers and students. Some new faces joined the Cooper City team in 2020 and had a very different first year here. Joining a new school can be difficult, but online school provided an additional challenge.
One really big adjustment that all teachers had to make was adapting their work to online platforms. Websites like Kahoot and Nearpod became a big part of the school year, which some teachers only started using this year.
“[I] had to find virtual activities like a virtual escape room in Liberal Arts class, and just upload everything instead of physical copies,” teacher John Browning said. “[I] used Nearpod for the first time this year.”
Browning taught Liberal Arts Math and Algebra 1 last year. Before becoming a teacher, he served for 5 years in the Navy. Browning then decided to pursue teaching and taught at Renaissance Charter School before coming to work at Cooper City High School. In addition to teaching math, Browning helped coach CCHS wrestling and flag football. This year, he will be teaching Liberal Arts Math, Liberal Arts 2 and Critical Thinking.
“If you were my student last year but didn’t come in person, please stop by and say hi,” Browning said.
Another addition was John Laffey, a CCHS alumnus. Laffey taught Chemistry and Environmental Science last year. Laffey plays guitar in his band and also was a K9 handler in the Air Force. He will be teaching Chemistry and AICE Environmental Management this year.
Doing school online allowed students to study from the comfort of home where there are distractions everywhere. Many students didn’t turn on their cameras or avoided answering the questions, which made it more difficult for teachers to interact with students.
“Class participation was a big challenge last year,” Laffey said. “Especially with regard to homework being done.”
Another difficulty, especially for new teachers, is that they weren’t able to connect with their students. Many didn’t have any previous relationships with students or their fellow staff members. Getting to know others online can be difficult, especially at a new school where you cannot rely on any past knowledge.
“The most challenging thing for me was the lack of communication from the more shy students who did not like to be on TEAMS,” teacher Tara Daub said. “As a teacher who really cares about my students, it was difficult knowing that some students were not reaching their true potential because I could not help them with hands-on assistance.”
Daub is the Drawing 1, Drawing 2 and 2-D Art teacher. Like Browning and Laffey, she also had to adapt her courses to the online format while getting used to the new school. Daub graduated from UCF with her master’s degree.
All teachers had to adjust to the online curriculum. There were many challenges with the technology and websites used. However, teachers made accommodations every day to make sure no student was left behind.
“Overall, I follow the standards but I slowed things down a bit as chemistry is already hard enough and I wanted to ensure there was enough time spent on each topic,” Laffey said.
While last year presented teachers with many challenges, many were able to secure a successful year with many wins along the way.
“The ‘wins’ are all the emails I received from students telling me how much they enjoyed my class and expressing their gratitude to me,” Daub said.
Thanks to the teachers’ hard work last year, students were able to succeed in their classes and tests. Through all of the challenges that were brought with online learning, the CCHS family was still able to triumph.
“I’m looking forward to being back in person and hope everyone enjoyed their time off,” Laffey said.