The Return to School: An Educator’s Perspective

The Return to School: An Educators Perspective

Along with many issues that still persist to this day, COVID-19 still has not given anyone a return to normalcy. To this extent, students should know that it is important to be aware of what some of the teachers are going through with the whole in-person/virtual return to school to finish the 2020-2021 school year. We talked to two teachers about this experience.

“There are certainly a lot of challenges right now. In the current situation, it has been very difficult to give my students the type of experience that is typical for my classroom. It is stressful to have to monitor students in the classroom and online at the same time. It takes more effort than I am used to, to get students to engage with classroom activities sometimes. The stress of this year has exacerbated a chronic medical condition that I had under control before, and so I am dealing with physical challenges while trying to teach as well. I also have a difficult time hearing/understanding my students when they speak through a mask, and I wonder how many of them have the same problem with hearing me,” said Earth science teacher Mrs. McCaslin

People can already get an overall idea of how just tiring and exhausting it must be for a teacher to be under such stresses with the four days of in-person instruction. Being that, another important part of this “equation” is that people also need to know what the teachers see from a student. If they are motivated or are less motivated than in previous years.

“I teach mostly ninth-grade classes, so it is not unusual for there to be students in my classes that don’t know each other. By this time in the semester, though, we usually have a pretty cohesive classroom because I do a lot of group activities and help people get to know one another. This year, that element is still missing. I think it is hard for students to want to do a lot of talking and participating while wearing masks and having to keep distanced from one another, I do see a difference with the four-day return as opposed to the hybrid schedule. Now that there are more students in the classroom, it has become a little more lively and that is really nice. I would say that overall motivation has been lower this year compared to normal, but my students still seem to enjoy the same activities as students in the past,” explained Mrs. McCaslin.

Another thing that needs to be pointed out is the scenario with the students that are virtual. Students that are virtual are sometimes the ones getting left out, or at least not getting the attention that they deserve since the four-day switch. It is sometimes hard to uncover what’s on the other side of the screen. 

“I think certain types of students do very well being virtual and for others, it is a disaster. As a teacher, when we are giving a lesson, we use a lot of nonverbal clues to gauge whether students are engaged or understanding, and those clues are absent when students are virtual. It can also be hard to answer questions as well over chatting/emailing as you could in person. And then, sometimes the technical issues that can arise, on either side, can cause problems- so yes, I would say that being a virtual student could provide disadvantages. How much of a disadvantage really depends on the student: their type of learning style, how well they communicate, technology issues, etc. I will add that I have had very few students take advantage of my office hours- which I believe would be a big help for many students,” added Mrs. McCaslin.

I think that it is important for students who are learning virtually to develop a relationship with their teachers and their classmates. When we do not hear from students or even know what they look like, it is very difficult to know whether the students are engaged in class. I believe that we have built stronger relationships with students who are learning in person. Right now we are not quizzing or testing our students because there is no control over what students are doing virtually. I feel that some students are thriving virtually because they are not being distracted. I also feel that there are students who should not be learning virtually because they appear not to be learning at all,” said math and support teacher Mrs. Koval.

With this said, students and the LHS community can empathize and grasp the concept of how teachers are playing an important role to ensure the success of all the students at Liberty.