Life looks a little different right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cathedral High School, like most other schools, has made the recent transition to online learning. Faculty members and students help give us an inside look at a virtual classroom at Cathedral High.
Margot Reed, CHS mathematics teacher, is teaching students in her Algebra 1 class about exponential growth, “which is timely due to what is going on in the news right now,” joked Ms. Reed. Her Algebra 2 students just started a new unit on rational functions. Through remote learning, students are practicing adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing the rational expressions.
Ms. Reed has taken a unique approach to augment her online classroom, recording her own videos and uploading them to Google Classroom and YouTube so students can watch and re-watch at their own pace, follow along with captions if necessary, and even refer back to them later when they need extra practice or review. “I’ve mastered some new technology and learned to teach from a distance. I’ve learned how to design, record, and produce online content. I’m hopeful that we can use this material even after we come back to Cathedral as another way to teach,” said Ms. Reed.
Laura Aglekpe ’24 offers a student perspective on the shift. “It’s a privilege to be part of Ms. Reed’s math class because learning didn’t cease even though we are no longer going to the physical school. I am still learning, being challenged, having fun and seeing my teachers and classmates every week while at home,” she remarked.
According to Ms. Reed, everyone has gotten a laugh from adjusting to online learning whether it be from technical difficulties or interacting with the Cathedral community. She says that her students are what keeps her motivated during this time. She sends out weekly “check-in” Google Forms to see how students are doing and also ask them silly questions such as “If you could have one song play every time you entered a room what would it be, and why?” or “If you had the world’s attention for 30 seconds, what would you say?”
“My students are the light of my life and I love what I do, in person or online, because of them”, said Ms. Reed.
Pat McCloud, a history teacher at Cathedral, is currently teaching three classes online: World History, The History of Boston, and Law. “It is not ideal for anyone but I think we are doing some great things online,” he said, reflecting on the current situation.
It’s obvious from the outside looking in that online classes are certainly keeping students busy. Mr. McCloud’s classes are continuing to move through curriculum. The world history class is studying imperialism in China, in his course on law students are examining the Fourth Amendment. The History of Boston class just finished studying the Massachusetts 54th Regiment’s role in the Civil War.
Mr. McCloud reports that the online experience is going well and applauds the effort of everyone during these difficult times. When asked what is motivating him during this time Mr. McCloud responded, “The students. We forget how social high school is and that aspect has been lost. They have not seen their friends for a month. The students are stuck inside all day and are most likely getting antsy as well. I feel so badly for them but school must go on. If I can give them a break for 45 minutes a day, perhaps teach them something too, then I did my part.”
Reflecting on some funnier moments from online class, Mr. McCloud shared, “I have two daughters and they have stormed my home office a few times to see what I was doing during class. That got a few smiles from the students.”
“It has been a learning curve for everyone but I was impressed with the resilience of the school,” says Nathan Mezzanotte ’23. “It has been getting a little easier every week.”