Holden James, Nevaeh Stanford, Nautica Lessley // BHS Maroon Tribune // Berthoud, CO // 02/01/2021
COVID-19 has changed our way of life, and school has been changed drastically due to the safety precautions put in place. No longer can students go to school 5 days a week, students have to do school three days a week at home instead. When thinking about the changes in schools, many think about the students. But little think about the way teachers are struggling and have had to adapt to these trying times.
Teaching is a job that includes more than teaching a rubric with tests and quizzes at the end of each lesson. A teacher has the task of connecting with students something that has become a challenge during these times. With teachers teaching mostly on a video-communication website it has become a challenge for teachers to connect with students, especially with many students refusing to turn on their webcam and microphone to collaborate with the class. Kristal Domenico, a science teacher here at Berthoud High school said “When students turn their cameras off you can’t receive any nonverbal feedback to see how you can help them.” This nonverbal feedback could be a very helpful cue to see if a student is stuck on a particular question or idea. Teachers also can no longer walk up to your desk and see what the student is working on and help them one on one from there.
Since students are not in classrooms full-time teachers now have the responsibility of getting their students the supplies and resources they need. Painting teacher at BHS, Jessye Strey-Kieser says “Prepping kits for my classes took a lot of time - but so worth it knowing students would be able to make art at home”. Another struggle she has as a teacher this year is having to use a much larger amount of technology, for example, she said “learning a lot of new technology, and I mean a LOT. Now I use 2 or three screens.”
Although teachers are having drastic changes made to their learning lifestyles, some teachers are taking this as an opportunity to adapt and learn about their students. It's good that teachers have a chance to see students’ home lives, seeing decorations/ artwork on walls and pets is something that teachers wouldn't get if we weren't doing school online. Ms. Strey says “I get to see students' pets and other cool things (ex. posters or art in their bedrooms or weird trinkets that they got on a beach in Florida).”
Teachers have had to be much more flexible with their lesson plans over these past few months. From the short amount of time they had to plan for the start of online learning, to what’s felt like a constant change between online and hybrid learning. Teachers have been doing their best to adapt to these changes in a way that still allows their students to receive the best education possible.
One example of this has been extremely prominent in music classes. Music teacher, Sean Hedding, started focusing a lot more on having students learn how to make music online, which was something that they had never really had the chance to do before. While most students did find this new technique exciting at first, many of them missed being able to actually create music together. “No one joined marching band or orchestra to make music on a computer, they joined those classes to play their instrument.”
Teachers have had to be incredibly flexible when it comes to making plans for their students as even now, they really have no clue what the next obstacle thrown in their way is going to be. Despite these challenges, they’ve been incredibly quick to adapt to these difficult circumstances.
Not only do teachers have to adapt to the changes due to COVID-19 but also at the same time Thompson School District has changed their previous schedule which was once 8 classes a day to 4 classes a day. This change means that classes are longer but they end twice as fast in the school year. When asked, Keith Lobdell, a business and computer teacher here at Berthoud high school, said the rigor and pacing have been a challenge for him this year. Making teachers switch their lesson plan to fit the new schedule is definitely adding to the stress caused by COVID-19.
Times are definitely hard right now, this year has been unprecedented. While it might be challenging, the best thing to do is to be courteous and kind to each other. Teachers right now need a lot of love, patience, respect, and courtesy. We are all in this together dealing with the changes that COVID-19 has introduced in our life.