Teachers adapt to teaching during COVID-19
March 23, 2021
In one short year, teachers have had to adapt and rearrange everything to provide education and support for their students. Staff started working from home, moving their classwork and materials online, and trying to connect with their students virtually.
Teaching remotely from home can be difficult. Band director Glen Schneider found working from home more challenging than he expected.
“You take for granted the amount of focus that you can give to your job when you’re at your job,” Schneider said. “Working from home sometimes is not as easy as it sounds,”
While the change to teaching remotely was difficult for teachers, there were personal positives of working from home. Math teacher Jen Mayerik loves spending time with her family, which remote teaching has allowed her to do more than in a typical school year.
“I get to be present with my kids and be present helping because three little ones is a lot,” Mayerik said.
I like to talk to my students, I like to get to know my students. It feeds my energy, and if I’m not doing that, I lose energy in my classroom.”
— Aaron Marshall
Teachers now have to learn how to teach concurrently with students remotely and in person. They had the excitement of seeing co-workers and students for the first time in months, but new challenges arose with hybrid teaching, like communication. Communicating with students while remote learning was difficult, but trying to connect with remote students, while there are students in person, appears to be a larger issue.
“You have three or four students in front of you, so you’re disproportionately spending time with those students versus the 22 students at home,” social studies teacher Aaron Marshall said.
Marshall says he has had a difficult time maintaining enthusiasm for learning while remote. While in a typical year, he can interact, have one on one conversations, make jokes, and get to know students easily, remote and hybrid learning has caused major changes.
“I like to talk to my students, I like to get to know my students,” Marshall said. “It feeds my energy, and if I’m not doing that, I lose energy in my classroom.”
Last spring, students’ grades could not go down, and there was not a scheduled time for class periods and student work time.
“We had little to no participation because they knew that they could go any lower,” Mayerik said.
Teachers have been adapting and changing professionally to try and help students reach maximum success over this past year. Schneider has been working on personal projects, and he has had a lot more time to work personally thanks to remote learning.
“It’s been a really crazy year for the Schneiders because we are in the midst of building a house,” Schneider said. “So, in a way, this COVID-19 thing couldn’t have actually happened at a better time because I’ve been home and able to work on the house.”
Over this past year, teachers have gone through three major teaching and instructional changes. The first being last spring, when schools shut down. Then in Sept., full remote learning started. There were scheduled class periods and more accountability for students. Teachers also had to adapt to teach remotely for the foreseeable future.
“I think the main change there was by that point is that we knew we were in this for the long haul,” Schneider said.
The most rewarding thing about this past year is that I still get to see students progress.”
— Glen Schneider
At that point, staff and students knew that remote learning was going to be more formal and continuous than it was in the spring of 2020. While Schneider was changing his perspective on the longevity of remote learning, Marshall was looking forward to a more structured plan.
“Having the actual time periods for class periods was nice and provided a little bit more structure to my life,” Marshall said. “Also, having Zoom lessons was another change because, in the spring, we offered Zoom lessons, but they were not mandatory.”
This extra accountability provided more stability for not only students but teachers as well.
Most recently, starting hybrid learning in January was yet another change staff had to learn to adapt to. With students in-person and remote, Schneider has had to learn how to communicate and connect with both groups of students.
“I think connecting with my Zoomers is more difficult,” Schneider said. “I am just so excited to be back with people in the room, doing all these great things with the roomers.”
While there have been multiple difficult changes that teachers have had to adapt and change to, there have also been many positives to remote and hybrid learning. Mayerik has found new ways to teach and distribute work that she would not have discovered without remote learning.
“I’ve grown and learned some new apps and things that I think I am going to continue using after remote teaching,” Mayerik said.
Despite the frequent changes, Schneider still finds joy in the little victories.
“The most rewarding thing about this past year is that I still get to see students progress,” Schneider said. “Even though we’re learning music differently, you can still see people’s passion for music.”
Schneider sees the future as an opportunity to recharge, with getting back the motivation and strength to do great things. Reset, get back on track and learn from COVID-19, and lastly, rebuild all the instruction that was missed in a year or more of remote learning.
“I’m honestly looking forward to rededicating myself to being a great teacher and a great role model,” Schneider said.