By Alexis Costas, Broadcast Editor Imagine having to talk to yourself in an empty room for almost six hours every day, staring at a screen all the while. You ask questions to people who you know are supposed to be on the other side, but are met with silence half the time. When you get...
By Alexis Costas, Broadcast Editor
Imagine having to talk to yourself in an empty room for almost six hours every day, staring at a screen all the while. You ask questions to people who you know are supposed to be on the other side, but are met with silence half the time. When you get lucky and someone does respond to you, more often than not the voice comes not from a smiling face, but from two initials. Across the nation, this is how most teachers had to kick off the school year and yet somehow, there continue to be those who accuse them all of laziness, selfishness and poor performance in the hybrid classroom.
Since September, there have been many changes to in-person learning in an effort to simulate normalcy, but now that the year has come to a close I think it’s pretty safe to say that the past two semesters have not been very fun or “normal” for anyone. Despite that fact, my teachers stayed positive and engaged the whole time. While I moped behind my laptop screen and half-slept through my morning classes, they smiled and strived to provide their students with the best learning experiences possible, often admitting that things were less than ideal but that life had to go on.
Still, ever since November I have seen dozens of people- often on social media- throwing every criticism they can think of at our district’s teachers, many of whom don’t even have kids in school and as a result, lack the full picture. I have seen teachers called lazy for teaching from home, selfish for being hesitant about teaching in person before they were able to get COVID-19 vaccines, and unqualified for supposedly showing extreme bias to either virtual or in-person students. However, as someone who’s spoken with both teachers and students who felt lost this school year, it’s become clear to me that in most cases these accusations are entirely untrue.
Since the rollout of the four-day hybrid model, I’ve heard plenty of conversations about how things could have been executed better and various takes on what the “perfect” reopening and teaching plans would have been. While I agree that there are things our district could have done better- and the different perspectives are certainly interesting- the fact is, most of them are also inconsequential. If there are twenty pandemics after COVID-19 passes or if we never live through another one, there will never be a system or teacher that allows every student to feel personally understood and flawlessly accommodated.
Even under normal circumstances, it is impossible to develop a teaching method that works for every pupil. People learn best in different ways, and even when something works for the vast majority, there will always be kids who feel demotivated, uninterested or left behind. Distance learning may have made that issue worse this year, but in no way was that completely preventable, nor did “lazy” or “uncaring” teachers create it.
That isn’t to say that teachers are infallible, or that students didn’t have bad experiences in individual classes. I do notice that sometimes teachers tend to pay more attention to either virtual or in-person students, but that’s only natural, and it has never been done to a point where I felt my education was suffering. It saddens me to see that there are still parents and community members making broad negative statements in search of someone to blame for the stress and disappointment this pandemic has brought so many people this past year.
Adapting to social distancing and CDC guidelines hasn’t been easy for anyone, but teachers have had to make incredible adjustments to keep their classes running smoothly. Teachers with AP courses had to adjust their lesson plans to cover an entire college course while only having classes every other day thanks to block scheduling, while our own Spoke advisers had to oversee the production of an entire newspaper remotely almost every month. Science teachers had to replace and alter lab activities to accommodate hybrid learning, while middle and elementary school teachers often had to create new lessons completely to try and keep their online students engaged.
My main point here isn’t that teachers are immune to criticism, no one is. It’s simply an effort to raise awareness for what this year has been like for them- and to thank them for doing their best.
Alexis Costas can be reached at [email protected]
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