A Return to School Brings New Approaches to Learning


“Construction, first of all, has taken over our lives,” said Maneesha Mankad, CHS math teacher and forum leader.

After 16 months empty, AAPS buildings are again filled with students and staff beginning a not-yet normal school year. Two weeks before the first day of school on Aug 30, Mankad and her colleagues at CHS were hard at work preparing and acclimating to many changes: ordinary ones, like new staff members and room changes, and foreign ones, like mandated mask-wearing and construction right outside the window. 

“People have been working around the clock,” Mankad said. “People have been cleaning the building the whole time. Generally, we’ll have our room up and ready. We’ll have posters on the wall, we will have welcome signs for our students. I don’t even have pencils in my classroom because that box got left at home because I couldn’t bring everything in. It’s just been kind of crazy.”

Mankad is also developing and implementing an all-new math curriculum — for the second year in a row. Between lessons from both the pandemic and social justice trainings, there are many areas for growth.

Maneesha Mankad, a math teacher at CHS, watches the 2021-22 opening day ceremony. Although Mankad enjoyed coming back for hybrid learning in the spril of 2021, she worried about the students who were left at home. (Cate Weiser)

We wanted to move forward, having learned what we had learned in the pandemic,” Mankad said. “Our whole idea was, what can we take that was really good and awesome and add to that and move on, and not do the same stuff as before, because, I think we should all be constantly changing and evolving, learning, growing, just like the students, the same thing applies to teachers.”

Mankad is focused on reforming how she evaluates and grades students. In the past, she worried about students who were not able to advocate for an extension or ask for help. After two personal development training sessions, she’s hoping to better support those students. 

“When you’re learning, should that really count towards your grade?” Mankad said. “Because what are we grading for, grading for what you learn, and how much you learn. When you are learning, the mistakes you made shouldn’t be something you get dinged for.”

Mankad is happy to see students in the building again. She says learning together in real-time is why she got into teaching. She’s excited, although a little nervous, about all the changes that will come with this year. 

“I just want to say take a deep breath,” Mankad said. “It’s gonna be awesome. We’re gonna figure this out together.”