AP U.S. History teachers make changes due to pandemic

Karolena Zhou

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some history teachers had to change the way they teach for virtual students. AP U.S. History teacher Allison Hargrove said compared to last year, she had to adjust her teaching plans.

“We’ve lost half of our instructional days, so I have to record all of my lectures. This has been very time consuming to create these lessons. I also have less time to directly instruct students on writing, which is a large part of the course. It’s tough seeing kids every 5 to 6 days or so,” Hargrove said.

Compared to last year, she said she had to work harder to build relationships and interact with students.

“When we went virtual last year, I already knew my students really well. We were winding down to start prepping for the national exam. We did a lot of collaboration with peers, which was easy because my kiddos already knew one another. We had established classroom communities where students could easily work together and offer support,” Hargrove said. “This year, I’m teaching new content and trying to build relationships with students that are new to me. I also am trying to be cognizant of their schedules and time, which has been tough to navigate.”

Junior Emma Xiao is a virtual student taking AP U.S. History. She said even though the class is hard, it is very fun and the content is interesting.

“For AP U.S. History, I have gotten some discussions, worksheets, Edpuzzles and a lot of reading. I think that I have more coursework and due dates are more strict compared to last year. Even though the class is really difficult, I really like the class. It is fun and interesting,” Xiao said.

There are still some difficulties in teaching classes virtually. Hargrove said it is hard to interact with students.

“The biggest issue is creating a class culture where students feel free to engage with one another. One of my favorite aspects of teaching juniors–and APUSH–is that it’s easy to build a classroom rapport where students can freely share with one another. We feel like family by the end of the year. It’s been really difficult to do this virtually,” Hargrove said. “Oftentimes, when I ask for student input or questions, students feel too timid to share their thoughts. The biggest problem I’ve faced is when our first unit exam crashed towards the end in the AP Classroom website. It was stressful–I was really disappointed this had occurred; it felt like I’d let my students down, even though I know there’s nothing I could have done differently.”

Even with the difficulties of virtual classes and the inability to interact with her friends, Xiao said she is happy with her decision to virtual classes and her choice of AP U.S. History.

“Even though I can’t see my friends on a daily basis and the coursework is more, I still stand by my decision to choose virtual. I’m glad that I chose APUSH as the class is not only fun, but also interesting,” Xiao said.