A Teacher’s Perspective

Student and Teacher
Kathy McLean, English Teacher

During the summer of 2020, when many were still wondering if they should be disinfecting their mail, Director Mike Foster and Principal Nick Wright made a brave decision about the upcoming school year. They decided that our students would be best served by meeting in-person. Having finished the school year of 2019–2020via Zoom (“Turn your camera on!” “You’re on mute. You’re still on mute. You’re still on mute.” “Please don’t lie in bed while we are having class.”), the staff was ready to try a hybrid model.

We missed our students, and the students missed being with us and with each other. None of us missed Zoom.

I imagined a year of intermittent “Covid breaks” due to exposure and infection and sent the class novel home with students the first day of class so they would be ready to go all-virtual at a moment’s notice. And while that happened a couple of times, the year was far more successful than I anticipated.

Toward the end of the first semester, I was surprised to realize that we had covered much of the same material as a typical semester; though admittedly, there were notable changes. “Pull up your mask” replaced “Pull up your pants” as a daily reminder. Small group work vanished from my lesson plans. I used our in-class days for instruction, and students wrote essays and completed assignments at home. I discovered that putting a straw in my reusable water bottle allowed me to get a drink and keep teaching without taking my mask off.

Students and teachers have been resourceful and adaptive.We have depended on each other for encouragement and consistency and cooperation. We have helped each other learn and persist and stay healthy.

It has been harder to build relationships with class time (and facial expressions) essentially cut in half. But our students know that nothing, not even a pandemic, will keep us from doing our best to connect with them and help them keep moving forward toward graduation.

I will not miss much about this school year – maybe not bothering to wear make-up or earrings – but I look back with gratitude that Mike and Nick took the lead in taking the chance to have this hybrid, hopeful, precarious, mostly successful school year with, really WITH, our students.