Teaching during a pandemic can be hard enough to navigate on its own, but tackling your first year of teaching during a pandemic is an entirely different beast.
“I had no idea what to expect. I think the only thing I really knew before going into teaching at North was that I knew all the students were going to be great,” said Candis Bartys, first year teacher.
The pandemic has posed a series of challenges towards teachers. For instance, it’s left many trying to adjust their curriculum to fit the new schedule.
“There was a lot of shifting and trying to get the curriculum to fit the format,” said Danielle Sheppard, first year art teacher. “[It’s been] mostly trying to keep an open mind and be flexible and plan ahead, but also know that those plans could change.”
As a result of the unusual year, a mutual understanding has developed: everyone is just trying to do their best.
“[Students] have been so understanding when it comes to things like if I mess up with technology or if I’m a little late on grading stuff,” said Bartys. “I just think that there’s a really good mutual understanding, at least in my classes, between the students and the teacher and that relationship has really just been awesome.”
Not only has this school year required a substantial amount of flexibility, but it has also required a large amount of creativity as teachers have found different ways to check in with students and cultivate strong student-teacher bonds despite not being able to see all of their class at once. First year English and Science teacher Joseph Labeck has instilled a social emotional learning time in his classes where everyone takes the time to check in on themselves and others.
“For my classes we always start class with ten to fifteen minutes of checking in and seeing how everyone is doing, just having open conversations and getting to know more about their interests,” said Labeck.
Teachers have also been setting up more personal one-on-one talks via video chat so students can have individual conversations with teachers.
“[I’ve had] lots of one-on-one check-ins to make sure that students still get that face time with me,” said Sheppard. “I can sit down with them and check that they’re doing okay so that they have a safe space to chat about what they’re going through, how they’re doing and what they’re experiencing.”
Despite the major obstacles that the pandemic has put in their path, these teachers are determined to make this the best year possible.
“You just have to always put that best foot forward and figure out what’s going to work for you and your kids and really just roll with it,” said Labeck.