A classroom perspective of a pandemic

A conversation with educators about teaching during COVID-19

April 22, 2021

As the end of this historic year approaches, teachers will finish balancing in-person and remote learning.  From online learning, Zooming classes, battling distractions and encouraging students, teachers adjusted practically overnight to ensure students could learn. Science teacher Sally Ricker quarantined twice and overcame a difficult case of COVID-19. Speech teacher Julie Laflen prepared to welcome her third child in a pandemic. Drama teacher Jason Huffman stepped in as Greg Shaw’s long-term substitute teacher and directed four performances.

The teachers below shared their experiences of teaching during a pandemic.

Julie Laflen

Fine Arts

Julie+Laflen

“This year has not been too bad. Beginning of the fall semester was hard when we had to figure out how to actually teach online, but it hasn’t been too bad. Learning how to teach kids how to debate online was very challenging and stressful since we were creating it while we went. I’m not sure how I could put in any more effort. Working 7 days a week is pretty hard when you have a family at home. First semester had some rough times with online kids – hard to keep them interested, couldn’t see their full faces, they wouldn’t respond when you would ask a question, etc. Second semester has gone way better. I feel like the expectations have been noted and are being followed a lot more. My first 2 years of teaching were very hard so I think this was easier than that! I didn’t expect this year to be easy by any means, but being a more veteran teacher I think made the transition easier. There are times I felt disappointed that I wasn’t reaching kids as effectively as I would like, but you can only do so much. I really value those relationships with students and I felt like I didn’t have any of that with online students. I have not (thankfully!) had to quarantine. My husband and kids have had to quarantine 4 times so far with my kindergartener being in quarantine his 2nd day of school. I think I’ll be much better at using things like Canvas, recording lessons, etc. I really love how I’ve made the transition to handing out nothing on paper and using the daily announcements has made life super great with students since they can just check there to see what is happening in class. I feel like this entire situation has forced us all to reevaluate what we teach and why we teach it. I’ve taken out assignments I felt were not needed and added in better ways to do things. I do miss the demonstrative speech and will for sure add that back in once we go back in person! I also really miss my old classroom set-up, can’t wait to go back to that! Teaching in a pandemic is hard, but kids are still pretty awesome. I just miss seeing their entire face.”

Anita White

Social Science

“This year has been average this year. I have been at a high level of stress this year. That’s part of the stress.  I am putting in even more hours than usual and still feel constantly behind. Many students have adjusted well.  Others seem to struggle, some don’t demonstrate much effort.  I will work with any student who makes an effort. The job as a teacher is harder because it is difficult to communicate with students that choose not to engage.  You want them to succeed but some folks aren’t in the place where they can focus on school, for a number of reasons. I let myself down because I want to have everything ready ahead of time, I want to grade assignments within 24 hours and provide feedback, even though I know many students never look at the comments.  It is hard to be the kind of teacher I want to be in the current environment. It’s hard to connect to remote learners who won’t turn on their cameras for even a few minutes. Fortunately, no I have not had to quarantine.  Learning styles are changing.  The attention span of many students keeps getting shorter which makes it difficult to do some interesting activities. With each student having a computer, the expectation for completion of work is higher but the reality is often less.  For many classes, it is not necessary for a student to have their phone out during class, especially if they are using their Chromebooks. However, many students refuse to put phones away. Similarly, students on their Chromebooks are playing video games or watching YouTube and Netflix.  They prefer to be entertained than educated.  It changes the way we design courses in order to keep students engaged and learning. Trying to remember to be flexible is the hardest part sometimes.  We can’t control conditions at home.  For students who struggle, please reach out to your teachers. Many will help and work with you to help you succeed.  Masks make it harder to read expressions and students who don’t turn on their cameras make it harder for your teachers to recognize when you need help. So it is often going to be up to you to reach out.”

Jason Huffman

Fine Arts

“Can I say we are surviving?  This year has been extremely stressful.  I feel like I am putting effort towards this year, actually worked harder this year than almost any other year I have worked. Sometimes I feel let down by the students’ behavior, they seem to be less engaged. My job has been harder and no, it has not.  I know that doing theatre during a global pandemic was going to be very tough. Sometimes I let myself down. I feel that I am not providing enough for the students even though I am trying to do everything I can for them. I have not been quarantined yet. I think that this pandemic has forever changed how public education will be handled and be viewed by the public. Teachers have always been asked for much more than their job requires, and it has mostly gone unnoticed by the general public. That has now all changed. I don’t know that the public appreciates how difficult it is to teach, but at least the struggle is recognized.”

 

Angela Pallarés

Spanish

“This year has been unlike any other before it. This year has been mentally taxing. I like having an idea of what is to come, some sense of order, and this school year (and year in general) has been the school year of, ‘well, who knows’, or ‘this is all going to be different tomorrow’… so that’s been hard. I feel like all I do is school-related, so yes I have put a lot of effort into this year. I stay late to grade, I spend 4-8 hours on the weekends between planning and grading, it’s crazy. I do not feel let down by students’ behaviors, not at all. I actually feel the inverse, students have been amazing! I think being ripped out of classes, normalcy, seeing classmates and teachers in March has made students more appreciative than ever to actually be IN school. My job has been A LOT harder. I did not expect it to be easy. There are so many more things to think about and change because you always have to have the remote learner in mind, how does this activity or game work for both in-person and remote learners?… Also making almost everything paperless. It’s been a JOURNEY, a technological freaking journey, pdf to Google Doc, to Kami, to annotating in Canvas ordeal. I feel like I could use an assistant to be my “camera person”, to move it around and make sure all of my online kids were seeing and hearing what I and classmates were saying, that they see what I’m sharing on Google meet calls, etc. Lots of learning curves for students and teachers. I don’t let myself down, I am surviving with a smile. The students are what make the struggle worth it. I have not had to quarantine,  thank God! I think it would be pretty ¨interesting¨ trying to teach with a two-year-old and a four-year-old at home. Let’s just say my classes would be entertained. I have no clue if I would be able to teach the same, I try not to speculate too much, everything seems so fluid nowadays, I do not even begin to pretend I might understand what the future will hold. I cannot wait for masks to be a  thing of the past. Being a language teacher, speaking so students can see what you are saying is so important. I also miss seeing smiles. It’s kind of eerie to think I’ve only seen PowerSchool pictures, I don’t even truly know what around 50 of my students look like.”

Kristi Neef

Math

Kristi+Neef

“Fall semester was very difficult with having to put all of my curriculum on Canvas and trying to make online learning work.  Spring semester has been less stressful as I’m learning how to use Canvas more efficiently (still do not like math!).  Online learning is still very difficult to navigate, but students seem to understand the expectations better.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say an 8 at times and a 10 at times. When the math dept switched curriculum about 4 years ago, I was working an extraordinary amount of hours a week.  This year has been similar – the amount of time it takes to create modules in Canvas, adjust my curriculum so that it works with Canvas, trying to figure out how to do HW and give a math test on Canvas, trying to create Algebra 1 HW on Canvas has taken an enormous amount of time and has been extremely difficult. I realize that I am not the best at technology, but Canvas and math do not seem to work well together.  That all being said – yes, I am putting a great amount of effort into this school year. Of course they let me down, it always frustrates me that kids don’t try or won’t communicate or don’t care.  But, so many of our students at PHS do not have the best of home lives.  I don’t know how to help – but I understand when you have serious problems at home, learning math is not important.  Teaching has never been easy.  When you are passionate about your job, you work hard to do your best.  Teaching has gotten more difficult throughout the years – for many reasons, but I still work hard to do my best. I let myself down all the time.  I have high expectations of myself and my students.  Kind of hard to live up to them. I have not been quarantined yet. The same as what?  The same as before the pandemic or the same as during the pandemic?  I’m going to teach the best that I can no matter what is happening.”

Brian Latham

Social Science

“This year has been good. This year has been stressful at times for teachers and students but seems to be improving. Being in my first year here and teaching new classes and in a pandemic, yes I would say I am putting in enough effort. It takes some effort to get established and build trust with students. I don’t feel let down by students’ behaviors,  I have generally found their efforts exceptional. Teaching has been a little harder, more technology-dependent.  I enjoy using technology when it is useful but it can be dehumanizing when overused. I try not to let myself down, this is important work and I think students realize that….most of the time. Thankfully, I have not had to quarantine. I hope to teach the same after the pandemic. I like more students more actively engaged with each other in class than we have had this year. I love teaching and am very happy to be having the Pittsburg experience…even during a pandemic.”

David Simpson

Math

David+Simpson

“It has been challenging but the students have really stepped up this year and worked hard. I think they are excited to be in school again! It has been stressful balancing face-to-face learners and remote learners in the same classes. I feel like I am putting in enough effort this year. I have learned a lot about teaching remotely and this year has taught me how to adapt to remote learning. No, I don’t feel let down by the students’ behavior, students have been very hard working. I feel that they are glad to be back in the classroom as a whole. It has stretched me learning how to teach in two different environments. I expected it to be hard, I do feel that I am growing as a teacher this year. At times, especially at the first of the year, I felt like I was not able to connect with my remote learners as well as I should. No, I have not been quarantined. I think I have found some different ways to reach my students this year that I will incorporate in my future classrooms. I will appreciate when I can have all my students in the classroom, where I feel that I can have a stronger relationship with them.”

Rob Cummings

Special Education

“This year has been so good so far! I have tried my best to manage my stress so my students don’t feel what I am feeling. They deserve a calm relaxed work environment. Also, I want them to know that everything is going to be okay because it truly will be. Yes, I feel like I am putting in enough effort. I believe this year has made me a better teacher. I have had to adjust and differentiate instruction even more to reach all of my students. But, I do believe I can always do better.  No, I don’t feel let down by students. Students are trying to figure out how to navigate the new normal the same as I am. I understand that there is a heightened level of uncertainty and stress that comes along with times like these. We have to work together to make it through these trying times. I probably think that my job has been harder, but when I am able to look back on this point in time I’ll probably make fun of myself for being overdramatic about it. I like to self-reflect and ask myself how I could have been better in each situation. I am always able to find ways to improve. I wouldn’t call it letting myself down, I’d refer to it as growing as a human and gaining wisdom with each new scenario I encounter, so I can be better the next time around. Thankfully, I have not experienced a quarantine at this time. I think I have gained a lot of knowledge that will make my class better due to the uniqueness of the pandemic, and the new programming that I have implemented. I’m sure many things will be the same while continuing to move forward and make my class better for my students. “Keep on Keepin’ on” We will come out of this period of time better and stronger.”

Rebecca Lomshek

Fine Arts


“This year has been good, busy. This year has been more stressful than others that is for sure. I feel like I am putting enough effort this year because all of the online take so much more time. I haven’t been let down by the students’ behaviors, I have been so impressed this year with students in all respects. My job has been more difficult because of learning canvas. Sometimes I let myself down. Just not doing things correctly, seems like I make lots of mistakes. I have had to quarantine, it was difficult to stay put. I do like canvas. It helps me be more organized. It will probably be a mix.”

Emily George

English

“I am busier and more tired, but I’m happy to be in school with my students. Outside stressors have increased, but the school environment is not any more stressful for me than previous years. In the beginning, it was, but I’ve become accustomed to checking in with my virtual learners. I feel like I am putting forth more effort than in previous years. I don’t feel let down, but I do get frustrated at the lack of effort from students this year. Some can handle virtual learning, but for others the temptation to be distracted by a screen is too much. My work is more difficult, but I expected it to be so. I don’t let myself down,  I am proud of my work and my effort. I have not been quarantined yet. I believe my teaching will improve after the pandemic.  I will be able to allow more fun projects away from screens again. And I don’t like feeling tied down to my chair.  I want to “walk the room.” I love working here. I’m so glad I do.”

Jill Kangas

Special Education


“This year has not been bad, actually. After the first couple of months, I got into a rhythm.  Lesson planning takes longer, and I still haven’t created a perfect quiz in Canvas, but I’m giving myself some grace. I could probably put in more of an effort, but I think it’s more important to manage my stress levels, so I can be a positive influence in class. No, I don’t feel let down by my students.  I will not be able to teach the same after the pandemic because we can’t use as many hands-on items.”

Chuck Boyles

Fine Arts


“This year has been stressful and uncertain. My stress is a 7 out of 10. Sometimes I feel like I put enough effort but not always sure where to put effort. I don’t feel let down by the students’ behavior but I do not have an online option either. I expected my job to get easier as the vaccine is distributed. Sometimes I let myself down, I try to find my personal motivation. I have been quarantined for 10 days because of close contact but never sick. I think I will be able to teach the same, depending on how the rest of our community recovers. Truly hope we return to normal soon.”

Aubry Ross

Science

“This year has honestly been really good. I think my advantage is that I am new to the building, so many of the professional changes would have impacted me regardless of thpandemic. This year has been mildly stressful. I am most stressed about my students’ wellbeing and health. Keeping everyone safe within the learning environment is a top priority of mine. I feel like I put in enough effort for this year, but I also don’t. I think that I have worked very hard this year, but I also feel that there is always room for improvement! As a whole, I feel that the students of PHS have done an excellent job of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 I’ve never expected teaching to be an easy occupation. However, there are unique challenges that no one could have predicted. Students are not accustomed to learning from home and the integration of Chromebooks is still new to everyone. With time and experience, both teachers and students will overcome these. Sometimes I let myself down and that is OK. I try to grow from those instances, knowing it can be OK to change my expectations but not lower my standards. Teaching, in general, is a difficult occupation but a rewarding one. We are all our own harshest critics, recognizing that, I believe that if you let yourself down, the important thing is to pick yourself back up. I have been quarantined for a short while. I thought it was more difficult to manage my time because of the additional distractions. I think the biggest challenge was not being prepared to work from home. I don’t know if my teaching strategies will be much different as I already incorporate a large amount of technology in my classes. But I do think that my empathy for my students and perspectives will be different.”

Patrick McFall

Special Education

“Honestly, this year has been alright at best. It hasn’t been consistently stressful. It comes and goes depending on the week and events surrounding it. However, the biggest part of the stress comes from the isolation and planning for multiple means of representation for classes. For example, making work available to those in class or at home and in various forms. I don’t feel like I am putting in as much effort to be real. I feel like I’m only putting in enough to get by. I could be doing much more to make things more engaging for my students, improve on my communication with them and staff, as well as stay up on the progress of my students more frequently. This doesn’t happen as often because of feeling depressed, apathetic, and numb whether due to COVID, the World’s situation, other personal reasons, and/or all of the above. I don’t feel let down by my students. I think what we’re seeing on a regular basis is in response to the state of things in the country and locally. When you are limited in what you can do and who you can do it with, you tend to see energy spent doing normal things transfer to behaviors not normally seen. My job hasn’t been more difficult as much as just different. I didn’t expect it to be easy because of having to learn how to accommodate a hybrid type of classroom. I planned on this school year being a learning step for me on where I can improve my ability and skills as a teacher. Yes, I frequently let myself down. I have pretty high expectations for myself and my behavior, so when I don’t meet those expectations it’s disappointing and also reinforcing to not meet them in the future. This just adds on to a negative self-image. Yeah, I quarantined at the end of last semester. It was tough to keep track of my kids and how they were doing on a regular basis. It wasn’t as tough as I thought it was going to be, it just meant different and new challenges. The pandemic has changed my perspective on what it means to have time for mental health in the classroom. For example, taking breaks and taking time to discuss issues with students as a group or individually. These breaks are opportunities for teachers to really connect and also hopefully take care of some concerns that are running through student’s heads. So, going forward I see myself planning on providing moments like these should the need arise. I also feel like my content has changed to accommodate the pandemic in a few ways. Those have been helpful for students both here and at home. In the future, I can’t see why I wouldn’t keep the same format so that student access is not limited to only being here or only online.”

Sally Ricker

Science

 

“This year was rough… I had COVID for a month with pneumonia twice. This has been the most stressful year of my 25 years in the teaching profession. I am trying to maintain the same level of rigor as a normal year. The biggest struggle for me is keeping a fair level playing field as I teach kids in class in and remotely. I changed my rules for testing this year-I now let my students use their notes. This sounds like it might be easier on the students but actually I have made the test questions even more difficult. So I hope they are still getting the rigor necessary for a college-level physics or chemistry course. I think our kids are doing a great job considering the circumstances. I am proud of how our students act and respond every day. Teaching has never been an easy job, but I love what I do. It’s not easy because I reflect every day and try to do better. I want to deliver the best lecture, the best test, and the best information every day to my students. I let myself down every day but that motivates me to do better. I have quarantined 3 times this year. I like being at school. I am more effective in my classroom. I don’t think we will ever go back to the way it was pre-pandemic.  I think schools, parents, and the community will continue to want online learning in some fashion.”

 

Emily Smith

Career Technical Education


“This year has been amazing. I think I am putting in enough effort but I don’t know how the kids feel. I am sometimes let down by the students’ behavior. My job sometimes gets harder,  I don’t ever expect teaching to be easy. I had to quarantine and it was awful and stressful. I felt like I abandoned my kids. I hope I will be able to teach the same after the pandemic.”

Susan Laushman

Fine Arts


“This year has improved. The 1st semester was rough. It has been very stressful. Teachers are exerting far more effort this year to accomplish good education. Teaching in person with remote synchronously is exhausting. I don’t feel let down by students’ behavior. I am very connected to my students and have a strong relationship with them. We persevere together. My job has been considerably harder this year. It is comparable to having a double schedule when you are teaching in the classroom and you are teaching remotely. I do not let myself down. Sometimes I am very down. Sometimes I am discouraged.I have not had to quarantine. I take mitigation very seriously and am very cautious. I will not teach the same. I will go back to pre Covid teaching, which is dramatically different than now.”

Abbey Cummings

English

My year started off full of anxiety and uncertainty, but things have stabilized and become more manageable. The fall semester was a nightmare, but I feel like I’ve developed some coping mechanisms for the second semester that help to make it less stressful. I feel like I spend much more time on lesson planning this year in order to best engage both in-person and remote learners. I’ve had to put in a lot of work to change the way I teach to better reach my students this year. I’ve been disappointed a few times. I feel like there are some remote learners that aren’t taking their classes seriously. It’s not an easy job even without COVID, so I did expect it to be even more challenging this year based on our experiences last spring. I feel like having my attention divided between in-person and remote learners has made me feel like I’m not giving either set of students my very best. Neither group is given my undivided attention. That really makes me feel defeated by the end of the day. I have not had to quarantine this year. I can’t wait to get back to teaching the way I was prior to the pandemic. I love engaging students in games, group work, seminars, and activities. I’m limited now due to the pandemic. I appreciate the fact that I’ve been challenged to learn more about technology and believe I can incorporate some of that knowledge into my classes post-pandemic.”

Matt Butler

Math

“This year has been good so far. The start of the school year has been stressful, but now it has not been very stressful. I feel like I put in enough effort. I don’t feel let down by students, they have been very good this year.  It has been more difficult, yes. The most difficult thing is creating tests on Canvas and grading them, it is difficult to create tests on Canvas because it is not compatible with math. I did not expect it to be easy. I don’t let myself down,  I’m teaching and trying to make my classroom as “normal” as possible. I have not had to quarantine, but my kids have (2 different times). It was terrible, it is what I expected, It’s very difficult to teach from home with kids at home. One time I had to quarantine was with my Kindergartener and 2nd grader, so it was hard to make sure they were staying on task and on their Chromebook while I taught,  and the other time was with a 2-year-old, which was hard to keep him from screaming/crying and grabbing my laptop (obviously he wasn’t getting the attention he needed). I will be able to teach the same in the classroom, it feels like a normal year, I will now have everything on Canvas, just hope I don’t have to give tests online after this year.”

Anthony Fischer

Career Technical Education

“This year has been interesting. It has been on par stressful for my regular profession. I have been trying to develop a wider range of skill development. My goal is to make sure my students can care for themselves and their loved ones. There are points I do feel let down by their behaviors. I feel some students are just trying to scratch by with as little effort as they can. But I have seen students strive for bigger and greater goals. I was not sure what to expect with the current guidelines. I have found it harder to express lessons without some of the resources that I have. No, I have not had to quarantine yet. I believe I will be able to teach the same.”

Emily Allen

Math

“So far, my year has been going much better than anticipated! This year has started out pretty rough, but as I have learned the ins and outs of Canvas it has gotten much easier! I feel like I am putting more effort in than ever before. Last semester, I was let down by the participation put forth by a lot of my remote learners. This semester there has been a ton of improvement and I have been impressed by what I have been seeing. My job has been a lot more difficult this year as I feel like there are more expectations and more things to learn. I did not expect it to be easy, but I was not prepared for everything it would entail. Occasionally, yes I let myself down. I always tell myself I have to have so many things done, and if I can’t achieve my goal I am letting myself down. Even if it was a goal that was impossible to obtain to begin with. I have only quarantined for a day or so at a time and have not had to stay the full two weeks. It was hard having a screen full of faces that weren’t always able to respond due to sound difficulties. I feel like my teaching will actually be improved after the pandemic. I have found myself to really like what Canvas has to offer and the pandemic has forced me to step outside of my comfort zone to learn new things.”

Darin Kelley

Physical Education

“I’m usually pretty laid back and don’t let things bother me that I can’t control, but it has been a stressful year. It feels like being a first-year teacher all over again with a pandemic thrown in on top of it.  I use all of my plan time plus more in order to try to keep my head above water. I haven’t had too many problems, the students have been pretty good this year.  I know they have a lot of stress on their part also that plays a part in this. I didn’t expect it to be easy and it has lived up to and gone beyond those expectations.  It is getting easier as the year goes on and I have gotten into a better routine. I try not to let myself down. Yes, I had to quarantine and I didn’t like it.  I didn’t necessarily try to teach online but I did meet with my students at the beginning of the class periods and let them know what was going on for the day and then if they had questions they would email me their questions.  Even in quarantine, there wasn’t much free time, it took a lot of time trying to keep up with what I needed to do. It has added to my many different ways that I can teach.  It’s not my preferred way to teach, as it currently is, but I will use some of the ways I teach and mix it with some of the ways I used to teach.”

Deb Lopez

Special Education

“This year has been extremely fast actually. On a scale of 1-10, I would say my stress at various times has been a 20 or more. I feel like I am working a lot harder this year, but I’m still behind and having a difficult time staying caught up.  I think it is because the added stress has affected my focus and I am not being as efficient as I could be. I feel let down by students’ behaviors, I am frustrated with students who have seemed to give up and do not participate when teachers reach out.  There have been numerous emails, texts, phone calls that are going unanswered.  We are here to help all students, but when you ghost us there is not much we can do to help. I feel like my job has been harder, we have had more balls thrown at us that we have to keep in the air without dropping them.  I will drop a ball on my paperwork or documentation before I drop a ball that directly impacts students, their learning, and their social/emotional well being. Of course I let myself down. It is frustrating when we give all we have to give but it’s not enough.  Either we are worn down mentally or physically.  You get to the point where your body says no more and you can’t  function.  I always want to be my best for each and every student. I had to quarantine and I had a substitute cover my kids in the classroom and I took care of the online students.  There is such a disconnect being on Zoom or meet.  I like to have the personal relationship where we can talk and have a conversation between us without waiting for whatever you say to be transferred through the computer. I will not be able to teach the same after the pandemic, as frustrating as this year has been. I do believe that there is good that has come out of it.  It has gotten some staff to look outside of the box and look at other ways to handle situations like assignments and such.  Maybe what they have always done does not work in the f2f and remote setting so they have to make changes.  This has been a positive but working through it has been frustrating also.  It’s a known fact that no one likes change.  I do believe we are all better teachers because we have had to adapt and modify lessons and assignments to cover a wide variety of platforms and snags along the way.  I am proud of my students and colleagues.  We all make mistakes and missteps, but we pick each other up and move on to brighter tomorrows.”

Bridgett Lancaster

Physical Education

“This year has been a bit overwhelming and stressful. The beginning of the year started out pretty stressful trying to get everything prepared for the school year.  So far, it has been better. I definitely feel like I am putting enough effort this year,, with all the extra stuff with Covid it has been a lot.  I don’t feel let down by students’ behavior because everybody has a bad day and I just try to take it day by day. With Covid, my job has been harder because of all the extra stuff we have to do. (cleaning equipment, online learners). Not me but my 3-year-old. I was bored and with PE you can’t teach virtually so I didn’t see any of my students but the online learners.”

Kyle Stanley

Science

“This year has been great! This year has been more than usual but nothing I can’t handle. I absolutely feel like I am putting in enough effort this year.  There has been a collective effort in our department to keep up with curriculum alignment as well as handling the daily issues involved with having in-person and remote students at the same time.  We have all learned a lot. I don’t feel let down by students’ behaviors, kids will be kids.  It is harder to form relationships with students that are remote but it can still be done. My job has been absolutely harder. I didn’t expect it to be as hard as it has been.  I’ve never done it before.  Having remote students and in-person students has been challenging.  Especially on lab days. I don’t let myself down because  I feel that I have a lot of support from my coworkers and my students. I have had to quarantine, It was awful. I felt even more disconnected from my students. I will be able to teach better after the pandemic. I’m more of a well-rounded educator now.”

Megan Kells

Science

“It has been an overwhelming year. I really enjoy being able to come to work and be around others, but it has definitely been stressful during this time. This year has been very stressful for me. I feel like I am putting effort towards this year, and I am trying to make connections with my students in person and online.  I try to be cognizant of student engagement. Some students are happy to be back in school, learning and socializing with their peers.  There are some students who are apathetic towards their learning.  That is disappointing. It has been difficult to adjust to making everything digital.  I did expect it to be challenging.  Changing how you do something is always hard at first. I don’t let myself down, I know I am doing the best that I can with the time and tools that I have. I’ve been quarantined, it is difficult to know if students are understanding you when they are not in the same room as you. I expected it to be tough and it was. I will keep a lot of the lessons the same.  There are many lessons where I will bring back the group work and the hands-on activities.  I really look forward to not being stuck at my desk, teaching in front of a computer, with a mask on.”

Hannah Davis

Special Education

“I have had another great year at PHS. My stress level has not been higher than in other years of teaching. I was well prepared for the increase in technology and change in the learning platforms, but planning for students being gone unexpectedly is very hard. I just try to be flexible with students and understand they may struggle to complete work independently or may not have great access to the internet. I had to quarantine for 11 school days. It was very challenging as I was teaching remotely from home with my 5-month-old son. I was very impressed with my students and their willingness to be flexible and step up when I needed help. They made the boring and mundane experience of quarantine more enjoyable.”

Adam Nunn

Career Technical Education

“This year has been great. It has not been stressful at all, other than not knowing if we will have to go remote. I always give 100% whether we are remote or face to face. My students are in a hands-on environment so it only lets me down if they do not interact with me if they are quarantined. The difficulty level for me really is the same. Teaching should never be considered easy especially in a hands-on lab environment. When I fail a student I often ask myself what I could have done differently. I have been very fortunate and have not had to quarantine. I will be able to teach the same after the pandemic, as a hands-on instructor I do not have any remote learners unless they are quarantined. I have been very impressed with the student’s enthusiasm to be in class to learn and have some normalcy in their lives.”

Mary Packard

Science

“Just when I think I’m caught up, I get overwhelmed again. The stress comes from many places; creating computer versions of everything, making sure remote students have what they need and feeling like you cannot provide them enough.  It’s just never-ending. I know I am doing all I can to provide my students a good education.  It’s what I love to do.  I am trying really hard to be a pandemic teacher. I know that I am tired of doing everything on the computer so I cannot imagine how sick of using them that students are off doing all assignments on computers. Everything takes more time! Preparing assignments and tests, grading and just teaching during the day. I did not think it would be easy.  It’s getting better, but getting to May will be a relief. I hate it when I forget to “share” my screen with remote students.  I hate it when I make mistakes because I did not link something or publish it.  I was quarantined from school for only one day, a Friday and then it was Thanksgiving break. So not too bad. It will be easier to teach next year.  Since assignments are loaded into Canvas this year and maybe having options to blend assignments and have some paper and some online would be nice. I am thankful that our school is live and not all remote like it was last spring…that was awful.  I am thankful that I have a job.  I am thankful that our district has really tried to make our school environment safe.”

Keith Matlock

Career Technical Education

“This year has been a good year. The students have been great considering all the unusual circumstances. This year has not been very stressful. Yes, I do put effort. My classes are a majority hands on. Because of this, the virus hasn’t changed much for me. I do not feel let down by my students. They have been great. I don’t let myself down. I have been quarantined. It was super boring. I’m not the type of person that can sit around. I will be able to teach the same after. The pandemic actually forced me to be more open to technology and learn to integrate it into my classes. This is something I haven’t been open to in the past.”

Stuart Perez

Career Technical Education

“This year has not been too bad. This year has been less stressful than last spring. I always put effort into my work. I just feel let down by the students who do not take their education seriously. Nothing has changed other than merging lessons into Canvas. I take my student failures personally. I will be able to teach the same after the pandemic.”

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