New Teachers at Irvington: Yeimy Ortiz


“This will be my third year teaching Spanish. And, my first year of teaching here at Irvington. I worked at a private school in Oakland, before moving to Fremont. In Oakland, we were following an eight class schedule. When the pandemic hit, we started following classes in a hybrid system, sometimes online classes, and at times in person. This schedule was really intense and we were spending about two hours per class period for all eight periods. Also, the school was far smaller and I was the only Spanish teacher for the entire school. Overall, Irvington is a much bigger school. Here at Irvington, it’s easier to have both the regular class schedule and also the block schedule. I think an hour and 20 minutes is enough time for a class, even if the time right now is going by so fast. 

I’m continuously surprised by how well students behave online. At the same time though, teachers really don’t have control of what students are doing behind their computer screens. For example, students sometimes unmute themselves accidentally. This is pretty awkward especially when kids are having a conversation with someone else. In meetings, I’ve heard people saying, ‘get out of my room,’ or ‘I’m in a class,’ or something like that. Everyone else in the class gets to hear all the screaming which is definitely uncomfortable. Other than that, I can at times see when students chat among themselves. I have suddenly received a random chat message, without me ever asking anything. So I can assume that the student is talking with someone else.

At first, I would worry that maybe some students were not gonna be participating the same. But they actually do take part in Spanish. Students need to speak Spanish for me to assess their pronunciation and see if students are learning their vocabulary and verbs. I’m just continuing to follow the same book for Spanish topics that we need to cover, of course, with everything online. The warmup we do is through zoom instead of writing on the board. Then I just have a presentation for the students ready – I try to have a presentation for all the classes ready every day.

Online learning does have some drawbacks – there are so many things that we do in a regular class. I think giving feedback to the student right away is one of those things. If they raise their hand, you can spend more time with the student right away. Online, students don’t raise their hands much. If they have questions, they don’t ask. I cannot really check their work until we go over the answers. To reduce this, I was thinking about having students show me their work through their cameras. Another drawback is that with technology everyone can have different problems – especially Wi-Fi and computer problems. But that’s not something easily fixed.

At the same time, there are a few nice things about distance learning. Physically, I’m not walking around back and forth to check up on all the students. They’re facing the camera and mostly paying attention. I also think there’s more control over who is raising their hand and noise levels in general. Of course, it’s not so helpful if the class is very quiet, because you wanted them to talk. Most of the classes are really good at engaging and following rules though. 

Overall, the time students have here in this class is really time that they should use. Letting work bleed into your personal time is something that can definitely set students up for failure. Online, we need more and more planning than before. The technology was something that I (and most other teachers) didn’t really use in my class classes before. Through distance learning, I’ve really learned more about technology, and I can easily use this skill in a regular class setting.”