As students in high school, it is often easy for us to become too focused on our own difficulties. When COVID came onto the scene and began infecting our own community, the transition was difficult. Seven months in, we have adapted to this new, strange routine. Whether we are learning virtually or in-person, there’s been many hiccups along the way. Yet as teenagers, it is easy to become too focused on ourselves. It is important to understand how COVID has also affected our teachers, from workload to their lessons and time in the classroom (or in some cases, on a computer screen).
The school at its normal state.
This school year, many of our teachers have faced an unprecedented increase in workload. With the addition of many groups to prepare assignments and lessons for, Madame Hart said, “I have to figure out how to adapt that lesson for Group A, Group B, and my 100% virtual students. And when you multiply that by the fact I teach five different preparations… that’s a lot of planning!” With this increase in groups and classes to teach, weekend working and using every minute of spare prep time is now a necessity for many.
Mrs. Long said, “I will say having the delayed start has been a lifesaver– I don’t know how I would get all of my prep work completed, as well as grading, without it.” Just to keep on top of things, many teachers are preparing their lessons for a week in advance. It is important to keep everything running smoothly.
Otherwise, according to Mr. Tuffiash, “If I wasn’t careful, the workload could easily have been 3 to 5 extra hours a day of planning, tinkering, learning new software, troubleshooting new communication issues and student-motivation issues to try to get the daily job back to life in January or February 2020.”
Beyond preparation and workload, teaching in a physical classroom space has come with new challenges. According to Mr. Wells, all the new changes throughout the school day add up. He said, “The small things add up – Was I able to get through with a typical 80-minute lesson in 60 minutes? Did we wipe down the desks? Did I forget anything?” With a smaller time to teach, yet more expectations and rules to align with COVID regulations, it becomes much harder to fit everything in.
As much as teachers would like to continue as normal, these changes cannot occur without sacrifices being made. Teachers are restructuring and cutting many projects, as Mrs. Long said, “I definitely am cutting down on some activities and content due to time and numbers…” Many projects and lessons also need to be adapted into multiple formats to serve the needs of virtual and both groups of hybrid students.
While the lesson quality is still the best possible, a lessened quantity can be disappointing for many teachers. They may lose projects they really enjoy doing, and the students may miss some interesting opportunities. Despite all the drawbacks of this schooling system, many teachers are still able to find some positives.
Despite all the challenges of teaching with COVID, teachers have managed to find some positives. Madame Hart said, “My students have been amazing. They keep their masks on, they keep their distance from one another, and they’re making the best of a situation that isn’t ideal…” Even with how crazy our lives are, we are able to make the best of it to receive the best education possible.
Other teachers have found that in some ways, the new classroom environment has helped their teaching. With many students working from home each day, technology has become far more important to the school day. Mrs. Long said, “I have also adapted some activities to be more engaging in class with technology I had not originally used in the past which has been a good change.” Students are getting more experience with technology and able to be involved in interactive programs, a new addition to student assignments.
While many classes make it hard for teachers to meet all the needs, smaller class size has been beneficial. Many teachers, including Mr. Tuffiash, mentioned, “ It might be surprising, but the small class sizes I think make it equal to better quality for many of the lessons.” With a smaller class size, it is easier to engage with each one of the students and give them all more attention.
Overall, Covid has introduced many new stressors into our teacher’s work environment. No one was prepared or expecting a global pandemic, and adapting to the circumstances has required more time and attention from them than ever. Despite everything, our teachers are still managing, and the school year has slowly begun to shift into something more routine. It is important for us as students to recognize this, so that we can better understand what our teacher’s lives and experiences are like.