COVID-19 Forces Teachers to Think Outside the Box

PMHS Teachers Transform the Way They Teach

COVID-19 Forces Teachers to Think Outside the Box

Grace Condon, Clubs Editor, Junior

COVID-19 has compelled teachers at Pelham Memorial High School to adapt to new teaching methods for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. The school has shifted to a hybrid learning model in order to allow for better social distancing and make the school a safer environment for all involved. The hybrid model means that teachers will teach to half the population of each in-person classes, while they must connect to the other half remotely. Is it possible to teach the same way to two different audiences? That’s just one of the new concerns the faculty finds itself addressing.

With many of the drastic changes occurring in and out of school, the use of technology is more necessary than ever before. Without in-classroom cameras, Google Meet, Kami, or Google Classroom, virtual learning wouldn’t be an option for students. However that means teachers need additional training and tech support, as well.

With  shortened class periods and half days on each Wednesday of a full week, teachers find themselves condensing lesson plans and material in order to make sure that all necessary material is covered and students are well prepared for AP and Regents exams in the Spring. 

Each of these present a challenge all its own.

“So many things have changed — the length of classes, the students we see on a daily basis, working with new technology, broadcasting lessons to students. On top of that, we have now become watchdogs of safety — making sure that rooms are clean, putting butcher-paper on desks, making sure students are properly social-distanced. We’ve had to create videos for Open House rather than meeting parents face-to-face, so many of us feel that we’ve even lost a connection with the parents. For those of us who act as advisors to clubs, we no longer have that social connection to students since clubs are now 100% remote. To say that it’s been a challenge would be an understatement!” Mr. Schleifer said. 

Another aspect that comes with these changes is the loss of a connection between students and teachers, something all students and teachers are having a hard time adjusting to. Students are missing out on being in the same room with their teacher for both regular classes as well as Academy period. With the social distancing requirements put into place necessary to keep everyone safe, comes the removal of other aspects of school such as group work. In science class, this might be a lab, or for another course a fun group activity or project. It has taken away from a lot of the social aspects of school as it is harder for students to interact with peers, collaborate, and share ideas. 

“There are two things that are challenging. The first is not having all the students in the room. You miss out on the conversations, group work, laughs (not at my jokes, obviously), and that is a really different energy for everyone to work with. The second is that the masks hide most of the face (as they should be based on their function) but it makes reading facial cues near impossible. As a person with an expressive face, it makes it much harder to communicate non-verbally.” said Mr. Lindley.

 Both students and staff have been forced to adapt to these unprecedented circumstances, and though the learning curve is steep, Pelham’s teachers continue to face the challenge head-on.