A Q&A on this School Year

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As known, we are back in school, it’s another school year, in which online school isn’t really an option anymore, where we are all back. Where, a large variety of kids, have been used to being online for about a year and a half now. Even the people who were in person last year, basically, did online. Making this year much harder for many people, with a mental switch in a way, because we as students are used to being able to use our resources on almost everything, not having much of the past year’s material in our brains. Where, this year we are back to paper and pencil, actually testing our knowledge, with our ways of learning even being a little messed up. In which I’m going to interview 2 different teenagers, such as, Alexa Eason & Alayna Evans &  2 teachers such as Mr. Reeder & Coach Follins to get their perspective on this school year, after the crazy corona strikes & changes that indeed occurred. 

Q1: Did the shift between last school year & this one affect you (in the ways you are required to be taught and are now being taught)? Explain, give further context.

AEA: Yes, a lot of people turned to online platforms for teaching and I really struggled to stay focused and learn online.

AEV: Yes, it did affect me because I was so used to online school last year even though it was hard to stay focused and do my work last year. This year is way different for me as it was a little difficult to adjust to a normal school year but I definitely love being in person all the time.

Q2: Is it a struggle shifting from primarily teaching online to being back to teaching hands-on again? Do you see a bigger struggle from your students due to this shift? Elaborate.

R: I was more than happy to get back to f2f teaching. It is much more intrinsically rewarding for myself. Building relationships with students virtually was… virtually impossible. I do see many students struggling to come back to campus after being away for 18 months (some 12 months). Many students seem to be struggling to adapt back to campus life and are having a hard time not only academically but also socially and emotionally. 

F: In all honesty, I was relieved to be teaching face to face again. While I had some amazing students online, it was a struggle to connect with them on the level that I was used to and make sure they were all working. Also, I’m a big component in developing life skills and it was a challenge to get students to work with one another, even if they were in breakout sessions. To answer the second part of your question, There is a challenge that the majority of teachers are facing this year. Due to the method we had to teach last year, we have many students that have gaps in their learning and we have to reteach concepts they should already know from the previous grade level or two. Because of this, we have to slow down our teaching and it causes us to get behind schedule with the YAG. All of this is understandable due to the circumstances we all (teachers, parents, and students) were in due to covid. 

Q3:Would you say that much was required of you during the corona years? Did you really learn much at all? Elaborate.

AEA: I feel as though the standards for learning were lower from a teacher’s perspective but I feel as I held myself to the same standards I had before and I learned from that

AEV: I felt like I had to set expectations for myself in order to do the work and pass my classes and I also felt like if I didn’t turn something in on time then that was completely on me. I feel like I did learn but some classes had us learn the materials by teaching ourselves which was very difficult for me so yes and no.

Q4: Would you say that with last year’s teaching standards, students didn’t really learn anything, which could be leading to them struggling this year because they haven’t had the mindset in quite a long time to actually do work? How so?

R: I can only speak about what happened in my classroom last year. On that note, students had every opportunity to learn the exact same curriculum as the f2f students. Now, asking if students chose to use the opportunity is a different question altogether. I do feel that there was a large portion of our student population that gave bare minimum effort and it is also my supposition that plagiarism was at an all-time high. To say that students didn’t learn anything isn’t fair, but I do believe that many students did not embrace the situation and put forth their best effort. Some students on the other hand did exceptionally well!

F: I’m not going to say students didn’t learn anything. I would say it was a new and challenging situation for many  students which caused them to be behind in their learning due to the adjustments we were all put in. As I mentioned before, I had online students who did well and embraced the challenge. 

Q5: What did you dislike & like about last year’s standards vs this years?

AEA: This year I like that we can have paper and learn by that, but I dislike that we have to do more group work rather than work alone but surrounded by a group. Last year I disliked being online except I did like being able to have my notes online.

AEV: What I like about this year is that we can have paper notes and actual school materials because I learn better with hands on and writing things down. I also love how we don’t really have to wear masks anymore which is nice and all my drill events weren’t cancelled like last year. What I don’t like is the more group work we have to do and going to  advisory class which we didn’t have last year.

Q6: How did you teach last year vs how you are teaching this year? How did you adjust to these circumstances?

R: Virtual students last year were much more self-paced and had to self-advocate more than ever before. This was largely due to the nature of virtual learning. On that note, I had a large amount of time in which I was staring at an empty Zoom classroom, hoping that a student would jump on to ask for clarification or direction. This year, my interactions with the students are of course tremendously different. 

F: For one I had virtual students in every class that I taught online. I had to stay behind a computer instead of walking around. It completely changed the way I taught and was a huge adjustment from what I’m used to. For example, I like to observe each student while they are working, engaging in conversations about the concept and also about life skills. I like to have a personal relationship with my students because I believe it is important to treat them with personal respect so they give that back to me, not just as another name on the screen. Concerning adjusting to the new situation I’m not going to say that I was perfect. I believe that I tried my best just as many other teachers did during this circumstance. I will say that if we had to go back to it I would do some things differently to impact more students learning.

Q7: What are you going to do this year to try and get back on track to make sure you can do the best possible, getting good grades, due to your mentality possibly even being off due to corona affecting the curriculum of the past years?

AEA: I am balancing my work from school and my outside life to make sure I am on track and staying healthy mentally and physically.

AEV:  This year I really want to keep up my grades which means getting help if necessary and studying for tests. I also want to spend more time with friends and family and do activities I enjoy to keep my mentality good. This year especially I always stay active by working out from dance and eating healthy.

Q8: What’s your mission as a teacher to ensure that your students do become capable this year, learning in the best way possible?

R: If you’ve had me as a teacher, you know that I consistently go out of my way to get to know my students. My main goal as a teacher is to make kids want to come to my classroom. If a student wants to be there, they’ll be much more likely to participate and to actually learn the material. Relationships first, curriculum follows. 

F: Well my mission this year starts with my overall vision, which is to build positive relationships with my students and prepare them for life after high school. My priority this year is to bridge the gaps because of last year’s situation, as well as building off of some of the weak spots they might have gained with the pandemic. My priority is to create a safe environment where students can grow and learn not only academically but in maturity as well.

Q9: Lastly, to end this off on a good note, tell us a fun/ good memory that you have from the last school year, as well as one from this one. (can be anything really, an accomplishment, milestone, funny story, anything).

AEA: Last year a good memory I have was being back in school for part of the year and seeing friends. While, this year a good memory is my summer with friends.

AEV: I would have to say my favorite memory from last year was when I had my first spring show for drill because it was just so much fun to be able to bond with last year’s team because we didn’t really get to since all our fun events were cancelled along with most of our football games due to covid. We all worked really hard on our performance and had so much fun getting prepared for it. All of my friends and family got to watch us and it will always be a memorable experience.

R: Last year:  I had many students message me privately on Zoom/email me to tell me that they appreciate the effort that I put in for them and that they appreciated that I was always in a good mood. They would mention that many teachers were really just posting work online and not interacting with them at all. Even though they were virtual, I tried to engage them and make the best of it. This year: It really is great to be able to build relationships with the kids again. My job is considerably more fulfilling and meaningful this year. 

F: Last Year: Having Students and parents tell me that Math wasn’t a strong subject but they liked my class and my “teaching style” and it helped them learn the material better. This Year: I have a student who is taking my class who was unsuccessful last year, due to the circumstances, and told me he/she was excited to come every day. And their grade reflects that so far. 

In which that’s a wrap, on this q&a, where 2 students & teachers give us their point of view on the shifts and changes of the school years. From the beginning of covid to now.