Reopening LAPS 8-27-20

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Christine Engelbrecht

Aug 27, 2020, 8:44:35 PM8/27/20
to School Board Public Comments, Jennifer Guy
Dear LAPS Board Members,

I am writing to you as a 7 year tenured teacher at Los Alamos High School about how we will continue to learn for the remainder of the fall semester. 

I am a thorough, organized, and communicative teacher. I take pride in my online presence during the school year and thrive while using online tools. Many of the tools that I am using in my remote classroom now are tools that I used while I was still teaching face to face. After tinkering for a few days, I have been able to successfully use a breakout session extension in each of my online English classes to facilitate small group discussion and group analysis. So, I rank right up there with the most technology-friendly, type A teachers at Los Alamos High. If there is anyone who is capable of continuing to teach online successfully, it is me. 

Even though I am tech-savvy and organized, I am struggling with the remote learning model. Working late into the night, I am converting and creating lessons to be compatible with remote learning. I am barely making a dent in the grading that is very necessary to give my students writing feedback. I am managing my time and energy better the longer that I teach in a remote setting, but I think that may only be because of the plentiful prep time that I have in the remote learning model.

All of this being said, I do not believe that the hybrid model is sustainable for our school system. The hybrid model will combine the preparation needed to teach in-person classes with the massive preparation needed to prepare online lessons that are clear, complete, and do not leave students lost. The workload that I am struggling to keep up with will increase. In the hybrid model, teachers will lose the prep time that has enabled us to pull off remote learning up to this point. Your teachers who already pushed to the breaking point trying to prepare and grade in the remote model will not be able to take the increased load of both prepping for in-person classes and remote classes in the hybrid model with less contracted prep time.

To me, this isn't a question of safety. I have faith in LAPS. I believe that my district will do everything in its power to keep us safe and would not consider opening unless you could keep our schools clean. This is a question of the quality of education for our students and the well being of your staff. While remote learning has definitely affected the pacing of our curriculum, teachers will have to abandon even more best practices to make a dual in-person and remote learning model work with only 90 minutes of prep time per day. The lessons will be poorly planned and feedback will be further delayed. Students will suffer in the hybrid learning model because they will be served by overloaded teachers who are stretched too thin to provide a quality education. 

When we teach our students face to face, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a more excellent group of educators in this state. In remote learning, I believe that we can excel with more practice. In the hybrid model, I believe that we would be set up to fail. Please, consider your teachers and the conditions required to produce our best work. Consider the quality of education that our students deserve. Keep us in remote learning or take us to all in-person learning. 

We appreciate your support.

Thank you,

Christine Anne Engelbrecht, M.Ed., NBCT
Los Alamos High School | AP Language & Composition, Honors English 10, and  Academic Skills Lab
New Mexico Certified Teacher | English, Grades 7-12 and Reading, K-12

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