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Oak Park High School teachers, students finding positives in online learning

Posted at 3:58 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 18:56:44-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Despite a few hiccups, students and teachers at Oak Park High School say they are breezing through the first week of online learning.

“Right now I’m really pleased with everything. I feel like right now it’s going as good as it possibly could be," said Katherine Whitaker, a math teacher at Oak Park High School in the North Kansas City School District.

Whitaker has been a teacher at Oak Park High School for five years. This week is the first ever that she's had to consistently teach her Algebra 1 and 2 classes online.

“I was nervous on Monday," Whitaker said. "I really had those weird back-to-school nightmare dreams the Sunday before, because I felt so prepared but then I had those nightmare dreams where you’re just like, 'oh my goodness, what if kids can’t get online, what if they choose not to participate, like what do you do?'"

For students and parents, learning math through online lessons can sound like a nightmare. Each day, Whitaker says she pre-records a lesson and posts it along with an assignment online.

For the most part, Whitaker told 41 Action News that student participation has been good.

“One of my kids who actually struggles in class, he’s like, I’ve honestly really liked this because I can watch the video and pause it when I can tell that I’m getting distracted and rewind it and try again," Whitaker said. "That’s been really positive and it makes me wonder if I should record more videos for kids just to use as like a secondary resource."

Avery Vanfossan is one of Whitaker's freshman students taking advantage of her online lessons. Vanfossan told 41 Action News that her only challenge is procrastination.

“Normally in class, I just have that set time to focus on it, but during online school, I can just do it whenever," Vanfossan said.

If Vanfossan has any questions about her assignments, the best thing she said she can do is email her teachers for help.

Despite missing her friends and not knowing if she'll return to school before the year is over, Vanfossan told 41 Action News she's enjoying her online learning and so is her teacher.

“I normally do all my work in one day and I go in order, so it takes me like two, three hours every day, so not nearly as long as like normal school, which is a plus," Vanfossan said.

Out of Whitaker's 125 students, she said only 10 have not logged on to complete assignments. Next week, Whitaker says the school will reach out to those students to make sure they have everything they need for their lessons.