Since returning to school, student and teacher peer interactions have continued. There are still added pressures to students’ and teachers’ everyday school lives.
Samantha Drost graduated from the criminal justice program at the University of Maine Presque Isle in 2006. She has been teaching high school social studies for 10 years and has been in education for 13 years. Samantha’s perspective on teaching during the pandemic shows the difficulties of switching from in-person teaching to online. For some teachers, the unknown has been the hardest part. Samantha said, “It has been the hardest last few years in my 10 years of teaching. Not knowing from one day to the next if we will be in school or online. Also having to catch kids up from a 10-day quarantine, while also trying to move kids forward in the curriculum. Trying to plan for any chance I could be out because of myself or my family might have to quarantine for two weeks.”
Teachers have had to learn to adapt to change, all the while looking out for their students. Not only have teachers been affected by the pandemic, but students have too. “Definitely, there is a student social aspect of it that was severely affected. Students not having regular communication with their peers and teachers because of quarantine. Students have a lot more social-emotional issues, which includes mental health. Not only worrying about the pandemic itself, but also food insecurity,” Samantha said.
Not only have the teachers put together new plans, but they have also had some added pressures put on their plates. Teachers have had to think of new ways to make assignments. “Definitely, having to plan for both in-person and online has made planning time quadrupled. Many of the things that I do in my classroom are group-based. I had to plan for those activities to be individualized because no one could sit together. Along with catching kids up who have fallen behind, it has also been a balancing act to make sure that kids’ mental health needs are met while educating them. Learning new ways of digitally engaging students took up additional planning time. In order to make learning interactive and personal,” Samantha said. Some teachers have made accommodations for online learning.
All teachers/students have had unique experiences that they will remember for years to come. These perspectives show some of the endurance that many teachers have had throughout the pandemic. These wonderful people have tried to make things as normal as possible for their students throughout the past couple of years. There are still many students and teachers experiencing these challenges and changes every day.