For this new edition of the #HowWeGotThis series, Olivier COMBEAU, LFSF Economics and Social Sciences teacher on the Ortega Campus, explains how the health crisis is changing his teaching approach and tells us more about his projects for the year.
LFSF : Hi Olivier, could you please introduce yourself and tell us more about your role at the LFSF?
Olivier: I have taught Economics and Sociology at the LFSF since 2008, when I moved to San Francisco. I am also in charge of different student programs such as StartUp Lycee, Job Fair, Shadows Days… These programs are very important at the LFSF because openness to the labour market is a priority in line with the reform in High School. The objectives are to go beyond bias related to gender or social background.
LFSF : How would you say the COVID crisis has affected your discipline in general and daily approach to your work? At your level, how did you manage to adapt to this new normal?
Olivier: When the COVID crisis led us to stay home in March 2020, I was able to experiment with a method I had been practicing for several years: the reverse class with online courses. Students are used to bringing their computer to the classroom and handing in their work on the LMS (Learning Management System). They prepare the session in advance with a video, text or graphic that allows them to contextualize the object of the lesson. The course is dedicated to the acquisition of knowledge and know-how after having decontextualized the object of the lesson. The session ends with an assessment and evaluation. At the end of the session, students find the full course online, allowing them to take stock or even make up for what they may have missed. I practice the same method, even remotely. This requires a detailed preparation beforehand that is differentiated because each students is different and has unique skills.
LFSF : Through these changes, and as the pandemic evolved, what were/are the biggest challenges you’ve encountered and why?
Olivier: Teaching remotely requires to always be dynamic in front of the screen in order to be able to do a lesson by capturing the attention of the students, stimulating their intellectual curiosity, and maintaining their motivation over time. You have to compete and do better than Youtube, Tiktok and Netflix... which are sometimes on the screen at the same time as the teacher!
As the weeks went by, I saw the students lose patience, become sad, or even be physically affected by days of isolation and hours spent in front of the screens. So I always must be in a good mood, be even more encouraging and offer them optimistic but realistic perspectives. The risk of re-confinement exists and the past experience will then serve us well to adapt to new constraining circumstances that may unfortunately re-occur. I am fortunate to have resilient students: they regain their “joie de vivre” pretty easily!
LFSF: What about the successes? Is there anything you are particularly proud of, and why?
Olivier: With distance learning, I have been able to involve students who are very discreet in the classroom, either by nature or because they are less comfortable with the French language. Online, these students have the opportunity to speak in front of the class with less fear of the gaze of others because the private space comforts them and the technology allows them to speak without the intervention of a third person.
Furthermore, online tutoring allows students to communicate with each other very easily and to quickly resolve difficulties without having to deal with logistical issues (room, transportation...). The same goes with parent-teacher meetings. You just have to be available.
LFSF : From a professional and may be a personal perspective, what are your priorities for this academic year ?
Olivier: My priority for the school year is to prepare Gr 12 students for the Economic and Social Sciences test of the new baccalaureate while enabling them to obtain a post-baccalaureate career path that matches their ambitions and skills and leads them to become enlightened citizens.
Next, I must train a generation of Gr 11 students in an ambitious Economics, Sociology and Political Science program so that next year they can make a reasoned and strategic choice to continue or stop this specialty.
Finally, I am seeking to get Gr 10 students curious about economics by organizing StartUp Lycée 2021 on the theme of food security from January 14 to 16, 2021. LFSF parents are invited to participate in this event by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#HowWeGotThis is our series of testimonials showing how our teams and community are pioneering, reinventing themselves and imagine new ways to operate in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.