By Laci Sutton / Staff W
Finals are quickly approaching for Hutchinson Community College. Arguably the toughest week of the semester for students, finals can also take a toll on the instructors.
COVID-19 has changed many things for the school year, so it’s no surprise the fall 2020 semester will be ending differently than normal.
Rather than going into the middle of December, finals week will take place Nov. 30-Dec. 3.
Teachers and students alike have had to adapt to all of the curveballs that this semester brought. Instructors have worked hard to maintain some sort of normalcy in the classroom for themselves and their students.
Some have changed the way they deliver their content while others have arranged their normal teaching to accommodate students unable to meet face-to-face.
Chemistry instructor Jennifer Wiens is using Zoom to monitor students who are unable to test in the classroom.
“I have to set up Zoom meetings to proctor students who are in quarantine, make sure they have all the materials they need to keep the course comparable to students that can be in the classroom.” Wiens said.
Amanda Smith, a psychology and human growth and development professor at HutchCC, is just one example.
“I had to try to plan for delivery of the content for both face-to-face and online formats (for those in quarantine or isolation),” Smith said. “ensuring that students would be able to access the lectures, quizzes, homework and exams in a way that did not leave one group with a greater advantage.”
Smith moved much of her content online and recorded her lectures over Zoom to allow everything to be easily accessible.
For her finals, Smith has moved them to an online format and is making the exam available a week early for students to access while maintaining the November/December deadline.
“Normally, I would do my finals in the classroom and allow students to use one note card,” Smith said. “But this year, planning for students to be in quarantine or isolation during finals week. I had to try to make the exams fair (in the same format) for all of my students, so I moved the exams online.”
Kim Newberry, a sociology instructor, has overcome personal struggles this semester while maneuvering challenges in her teaching.
“This semester has been my most flexible semester yet, but I have had the hardest semester personally to date,” Newberry said. “I thrive on the interaction I receive from my students and that has been difficult with masks and being in a large classroom.”
Kelly Clasen is an english and literature professor at HutchCC.
As an instructor who teaches both online and in person classes, Clasen has worked to overcome other difficulties.
Many online classes have an end date a week after in person finals classes. This keeps some students and teachers working an entire week past others, shaving a week off of their break.
“Ending early would require cutting a week out of an online class, which pushes deadlines closer together and can be stressful.” Clasen said.
Preparing for finals is tough without a global pandemic. Adding COVID-19 just adds to the chaos.
“I know that my students are drained and we are right there with them. Hang in there,” Newberry said.