Whether you are a new reader, or someone who read my first article and has patiently been waiting for my second, welcome! I hope everyone is healthy and wearing their masks.
It has been about 8 months since COVID-19 was first spotted in the US. Since then life has not been the same, everything has been flipped upside down, especially with the start of school. We already know how weird our world has gotten, getting your face scanned to check your temperature before going into a building. Only being able to eat outdoors at restaurants, multiple stores being locked down. I think our teachers are the ones to have the most unique year of us all. As they have to dig deep into their super powers and essentially teach the same material with a mask on, to two different groups. Every day, they have to open up a zoom and make sure all their kids make it safely to their chromebook while also taking account for all students who aren't on a screen. They must perfectly divide their attention between the kids physically there and the students who aren't.
Teachers ranging from preschool to college, we appreciate you doing whatever you can to keep students learning during this pandemic. I had the privilege of hearing from a few of the many fabulous faculty members at MHS, and my appreciation for teachers has grown exponentially. I cannot even imagine what kindergarten teachers must be going through. Phew, that's got to be a lot of work keeping the attention of all those little kiddos, either way they all deserve a raise in my opinion.
After talking to a few of the teachers here, it is clear to see that they are really doing their best. I can say that without a doubt they are powering through with a smile on their face… of course you wouldn’t see their smiles due to the masks, but they are there, rest assured. So let's get the real inside scoop from some of the teachers at MHS.
I think we can all agree that communication wise, the masks are a little hard to work with. I had the pleasure of speaking with some of the teachers at MHS, two of them were Mrs. O’Brien and Mr. Oswin. Mrs. O’Brien works in the Math department and is currently attempting to teach me calculus. Mr.Oswin is a part of the English department at MHS. I have him for Science Fiction and Fantasy this year, which is the class to take if robots and Harry Potter are your jam. Both of them agreed that working with masks on has been a bit tricky. I really don't blame them for feeling this way. Mr. Oswin spoke about how he usually relied “on reading [his] students' faces when [he] ask[ed] a question or [made] a comment in class”. However, due to the masks in place he has found that it's hard to connect with his students. His fellow coworker, Mrs. O’Brien, also agreed by saying that “not being able to see [her] students'; entire faces hinders the connection piece of teaching”. To top it off, she could never find the perfect volume when addressing online students and students in her classroom. She did however get a little microphone for her class and it helps her voice carry better. I honestly have no idea how on earth I would be able to function as a teacher. Teaching with a mask all day, and having to show up to school four days a week, I myself am barely able to keep up with my schedule as a student. I certainly applaud their efforts.
Being in a completely new environment under these circumstances, I would no doubt struggle to adjust. However, it appears that Ms. Jordan, the new chorus teacher, is defying the odds and doing quite well. Teachers have to learn a lot of names and make sure they know all their students and try to build a relationship with them for the sake of students' education. As this is key to doing the best you can, everyone has to work a lot harder than before Most teachers would say that when it comes to getting to
know their students on a personal level this year, it's a little more difficult, and they have to get a little inventive. For example, Ms. Jordan told me about how she likes using “bonding activities so that students can be included, like using an application called Pear Deck for a “This or That game”.
I do not have any classes with Ms. Jordan, but this sounds like fun. When it comes to teaching, I think we can all agree that there is a big aspect of creativity that's involved too, you know, keep the kids entertained and engaged while also making sure they are taking in knowledge. Unlike Mrs. O’Brien and Mr. Oswin, Ms. Jordan does not have to limit herself to the confines of a classroom. She can take her students outside for a mask break and use that time to connect with all her students and interact with them outside. Which let me tell you, I am quite jealous. I wish a lot of our classes could go outside because that would be pretty awesome. As we move through the school year there are going to be some rough patches, but we are all in this together as “High School Musical” proudly engraved into all our heads, and we will survive.
Another teacher I got to hear from was Ms. Bratton, who is a part of the technology, engineering and design department for the school. I had her for Digital Design last year and wow I learned a lot, my mind was blown. She has gone fully remote for a portion of the school year which I definitely do not blame her for. From my point of view I could tell that there had to be some challenges with being fully remote, especially during a new year so of course I had to talk with her. I think I would lose it a little bit having to teach brand-new kids, brand-new information and not being right there to help them out.
I remember being in her class last year and making a lot of mistakes and it was very difficult not having her right next to me to guide me. Somehow she made it work and personally most of my assignments were a smashing success. So Ms. Bratton, if you're reading this, I have no idea how you're doing it but you are doing it. She did mention that a good reason for why she's been able to keep her classes together is because of her students. They are putting in the necessary effort to keep class running, no 40 minutes of awkward silence in this class. Being all remote forces her kids to all meet online, so she doesn't have to try to find a balance, it's all laid out for her which is pretty convenient. She's not the only teacher that has blown me away with their ability to adjust, as Ms. Bratton complimented her fellow teachers by saying “the teachers at MHS are the most professional and caring people [she has] ever worked with.
Every teacher at MHS will continue to tweak their class structures and set up until they find the best way to do it”. I have seen these teachers work to keep everything in fluid for their students, they are real superheroes.
To me, math was never my strong suit or the highlight of my day. So having a teacher like Mrs. O’Brien has so far helped me understand and survive math. Whether you are online or in school she always makes sure to say “hi” to each student every morning, and in my opinion has done pretty well at balancing things out between the kids online and the kids that are in class. No matter how boring your day may seem, she always finds a way to crack a joke and keep class interesting. For being a math class that is saying a lot. She told me that it is quite exhausting, having to move back and forth, to her it feels like two jobs. And this readers is why they should get a raise because this is not easy stuff, they are really just trying their best. Something Mrs. O’Brien had to say that stuck with me was that she “hope[s] that everyone takes this pandemic seriously, continues to do the right thing, so we can move forward (and quickly) to getting back to "normal”. Be safe everyone!!”, couldn't have said it better myself.
I understand not wanting to be on screen, personally I really just despise it. However, I suspect all teachers want and as Mr. Oswin perfectly states he wishes that all students would keep themselves in camera, and so he can “see who you are and how you're feeling in class” he does understand that “being on camera can be awkward” but it's good to be on camera to build a connection. Although I would express that it was a little difficult for him to focus on each group and that no matter where his attention was he felt as though he was leaving out the other cohort. Which I get, this is all new on so many levels for everyone. Most importantly I think a good take away from what Mr. Oswin had to say was, everyone should make sure that they are taking care of themselves and focus on relieving yourself of stress and anxiety from this year in a good and positive way.
Keep up the good work, Madison, remember to keep you and your family safe, wear your mask, be kind to your teachers and just keep swimming.