COVID-19 Forces Teachers to Think Outside the Box

PMHS Teachers Transform the Way They Teach

Grace Condon, Junior, Clubs Editor

Due to COVID-19, teachers at Pelham Memorial High School have had 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 about half of the school will be learning from in-person classes, while the other half of the school will be learning online remotely. 

With many of the drastic changes occurring in and out of school, the use of technology is more prevalent than ever before. Now more than ever technology is essential in everyday routines. Without it, virtual learning wouldn’t be an option for students. With the shortened class periods and half days each full week, teachers have also had to condense 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. 

Teachers have expressed the challenges they face in this new environment. “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 lost a connection there. 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. More experience with the hybrid learning model leads to students and teachers learning more, and the system constantly being improved.