Physics+teacher+Laurie+Pennington

Photo courtesy of Laurie Pennington

Physics teacher Laurie Pennington

Physics teacher and Science Department Supervisor Laurie Pennington has noticed a dramatic shift in her day-to-day life in the wake of the shelter-in-place order. Like many teachers, she’s had to adjust to teaching from home, and to the newly implemented credit system.

During this time, many have struggled to maintain healthy activity levels. Pennington has noticed that she has been less active recently. “I can say that, by the end of the day, I have less than 1,000 steps on my fitbit, while on a normal teaching day, I would have about 8,000,” she said. According to Pennington, her usual activity has been replaced by her computer. “I tend to not get out of my chair the whole day,” she said. “I am also staring at a computer screen the whole day, which is difficult for my eyes, especially since I am old.”

However, Pennington worries more for the well-being of her students. “I have a lot of students who need help one-on-one and have a hard time doing work unless a teacher is with them,’’ she said. Pennington acknowledges the difficulty of reaching out to students who may need more personalized help. “It’s really difficult to get to those students and convince them to come and do one-on-one in Zoom,” she said. “I feel not depressed, but disheartened that there are some students who are having trouble working from home.’’

With the new change in academic standards, many teachers have had to adjust their course material and expectations for student assignments. Pennington is mindful that students may not be able to replicate the same kind of work at home than in a school environment. “The main thing that I am looking for is students interacting with the curriculum,” she said. “Once they show that they have kind of interacted with it and understood a little bit of what’s going on, we move on.”

Pennington hopes that students are able to practice self-care and time management in the absence of the structure that school provides. “Give yourself a little bit of a break,” she said. “You don’t have to be a perfectionist at this time, just try to have a little understanding of what’s going on and do your best to plan a schedule.”

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