On Thursday, March 12, Xavier High School teachers and students were in the classroom, going about business as usual. By the next week the classroom had shifted into the virtual world and online distance learning was the new norm.
We remain proud of how the students and teachers have adapted. We're honored to have teachers who are leaders and, this being National Teachers Week, we thank them for what they do each day.
We recently checked in with some of them.
What do you think you, as a teacher, will take away from this?
Brendan Donohue, principal and teacher: "Online teaching and learning has taught us all so much. It has helped us to use technology in ways we may not have ever tried before. We will be better teachers because of this. At the same time, it has taught us that nothing can replace the face-to-face interaction with our students. A hallmark of Xaverian education is enduring personal relationships centered on the teachings of Jesus Christ. This experience has served to reinforce the importance of this characteristic. We love our students and miss them very much. We pray for them daily and cannot wait to be together again.
"I am immensely proud of our faculty and staff. Their outreach to our students throughout this crisis is evidence of the strong bonds that are formed at Xavier – bonds that cannot be broken when tested by difficult times. I am deeply grateful to our teachers and honor them for their service."
Dan DeConti, math teacher, assistant athletic director: "As an educator we are always supposed to 'meet the kids where they are,' but sometimes when we get into the daily grind it can be easy to forget. Online learning has reminded me that I need to meet the kids where they are. We have some kids who have tremendous resources and we have others who have limited resources. Some of my students have parents who are First Responders, so they have the responsibility of taking care of siblings during the day or in some cases have had to live with relatives during the pandemic. Everyone's situation is a little different and with that needs to come some understanding and flexibility in teaching."
Marta Castro-Maguder, Spanish teacher: "An important lesson I will take from all of this is that I will be incorporating more technology in the classroom, not in the way I teach, but in the way I assess students and how we practice and review material."
Brendan Bell, religion teacher and Assistant Director of Admissions: "I think this experience has really forced me to more fully grasp the Xaverian value of Simplicity, which was always the value I had the hardest time explaining to my students. It has really shined a spotlight on what the true meaning of "essential" is – in my class, in our society, and in my own life."
Bill Garrity, religion teacher and former principal: "Student-teacher personal interaction cannot be replicated. ... We are human beings who desire human interaction. Throughout my career everyone has embraced technology and understandably so, but maybe this current situation can remind us that technology supports education, it is not the soul of education. The hallmark of a Xaverian education is enduring personal relationships – computer technology does not substitute for real-life interaction. We need to be together, in person, to celebrate each other and the sacraments. "
Paul Kieda, religion/multimedia teacher: I will take from his how important that personal interaction is. In the classroom, discussions are more natural and fluid, you can gauge comprehension faster and easier, you can tell if a kid is having a bad day just by looking at him, and just the camaraderie of being together is vital."
Xavier High School is a private, Catholic all-boys school in Middletown, CT., and a Xaverian Brothers Sponsored School.