‘It’s incredibly challenging’: Waunakee educators adjust to new method of teaching

WAUNAKEE, Wis.– There’s one word Principal Brian Borowski uses to describe the 2020-2021 school year.

“It’s incredibly challenging,” Borowski said.

Although teachers are in the classroom at Waunakee High school, their students aren’t. The school is operating almost completely online, with students only coming in for activities that can’t be done remotely.

“It’s not easy to recreate everything that schools have done for the past 100 years, right?” Borowski said. “It’s all been refined.”

Borowski said administration found that students do best when they know what their day looks like, which is why they’re trying to keep to a traditional schedule. For Waunakee, that’s a block schedule.

“We have rotating blocks, four classes one day and then four classes the next,” Borowski said.

The method of teaching, however, isn’t traditional at all. That forced many educators to become students as well this year.

“We’re having to be incredibly creative and more or less reinvent everything we’ve done in the past to try and provide a quality education for our students,” Borowski said.

One of those challenges is finding new ways to connect with students from behind a webcam. Private conversations with students that were once easy to have in the hallway don’t exist when the entire class is on a call at the same time.

Borowski said teachers and guidance counselors also found it beneficial to bring students in for one on one time when they’re not engaging online. He says that can make all the difference.

“We are sometimes working with them individually,” Borowski said. “Sometimes having the opportunity to the be in the building is all they needed just to feel connected.”

Borowski said the high school intends to return to in-person instruction at the start of the new semester in early January. He said a hybrid model is in the works and ready to be implemented.