New classes adjust to different learning formats


photo curtesy of Mackenzie Deutschmann

Mackenzie Deutschmann (12) rides her princess bike for the Adventure and Outdoor Pursuits class.

Oakville teachers are excited to be back at school in-person after using the first nine weeks of school to make the virtual classroom as creative as possible. 

With both staff and students adjusting to the new in-person school setting, many different classes engaged in nontraditional activities. One example is the new Adventure and Outdoors class that was introduced this year by Coach Bradford Oestreich. 

The class has engaged and captivated students to have fun outside, while learning how just being outside can build a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally. Coach Oestreich is teaching a hands-on class that allows students to learn through both participating and listening to his lectures about the importance of physical activity. 

“This class is focused on all things outdoors,” said Coach Oestreich. “It is different because it is not focused on traditional sports, cardio or lifting for exercise and maintaining an active lifestyle. It focuses on enjoying the outdoors and how simply being outdoors can help maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Oestreich enjoys in-person school, and he likes seeing how kids “experience how great outdoor adventures can be.” 

Mr. Christopher Sparks, the OHS Metals teacher, combined his video classes with discussions and at-home projects for the first nine weeks. Though Sparks and his students adapted well, he says that the interaction with students was very different from before. 

The biggest difference between the virtual situation and from previous school years is that  “students didn’t have the abilities to get their hands on projects and equipment,” according to Sparks. Even without the ability for students to have had easy access to projects and equipment, he did not fail to engage students with enjoyable activities. 

“The Graphics Design class has done some fun things. We create a virtual advertising company and produce marketing materials for startup companies,” said Mr. Sparks. 

Along with Mr. Sparks and Coach Oestreich, Mrs. Samantha Matoushek also came across limitations while teaching her brand new Baking and Pastry class virtually. Teaching the new class online for the first time was difficult, and according to Mrs. Matoushek, “hard to come up with things initially.” 

“It took some time, but we got used to it,” said the FACS teacher. “It has been difficult since we are a hands-on class, and it’s hard to do from home. But I’m glad kids are moving and not just sitting on their computers all day. They are learning important life lessons.”

As we all return to the classroom, Matoushek is glad to be back in the kitchen and seeing everybody face-to-face. She feels that she wouldn’t be able to recognize many of her students since “they never turn their cameras on,” another problem with online learning. 

Even as many teachers struggled with online learning, as a community we worked past the difficulties and are now returning to a sense of normality. Teachers such as Mr. Sparks, Coach Oestreich, and Mrs. Matoushek are excited to return to classrooms and connect with students in-person. 

Even though it will be challenging and different from what we are used to, working together should create a happy learning environment.