Teacher’s Take Away From This Year
May 6, 2021
This school year was unlike any other. This was cause for a constant learning experience. Both new and experienced teachers had to learn and adapt as the school year went on. Some ideas were a success and others were not, but every teacher has a takeaway from this year.
A common challenge teachers faced this year was being able to build relationships with students and have the ability to communicate with them. With the multiple changes throughout the year, it was hard to feel secure.
Mrs. Mahoney is a 9th and 11th grade Honors English I-II and AP English teacher who has been teaching for 28 years. She says, “Student communication in the classroom is not what it used to be. I come into my room from hallway duty and most of my classes are silent. Even when I say good morning or good afternoon to my classes, the response is typically silence from the students as they stare at their phones. It’s depressing. I also miss seeing my students faces, I gauge so much of my live instructions based on the looks I see from my students, confused, understanding, shock, and mildly irritated at a lame joke I told.”
Both students and teachers faced continual change. Teachers had to change the way they taught and interacted with students. There were also many changes regarding who was at school and who was online. Both the teachers and the students had to learn how to use new technology and apps, which took time away from what the teacher was supposed to be teaching.
Dr. Sand, a 10th through 12th grade math teacher who has been teaching for 25 years, said, “The biggest challenge this year is the changing of instructional formats without any experience to work from. Teaching a new way is always a challenge, but this year we’ve been tasked with teaching in at least 5 different models. Each model of instruction requires different norms and practices, but without experience to draw from, those norms had to be developed in practice.”
With challenges comes some success. It seems most teachers do believe they were able to successfully teach given the circumstances. Many were able to find ways to interact with both online and in person students.
Mrs. Jochim is a 10th through 12th grade Marketing I-II, Fashion Merchandising I-II, and Personal Finance teacher who has been teaching for 12 years. She said, “One of my successes was getting students to step out of their comfort zone and accomplish things they didn’t think they could.”
Some teachers did not focus on the educational successes but rather the social ones. School is not only a place for people to learn academically, but also to learn socially, and this year’s social interactions have been less than years past. Due to this, some teachers take student interaction in the classroom as success.
“The biggest success is seeing and hearing my classes interact,” explains Mr. Mickeliunas, an 11th grade AP World History and IB History HL 1 teacher, “I have missed the random conversations and when I hear them happening, I let it go. I don’t mind if we get off task, I am just happy to hear voices, laughter, and see students having fun. A few classes have started interacting more and it makes my day when it happens.”
This year, unlike past years, educators were both teachers and students. There were many trials and errors and many mistakes, but teachers did not give up because what kind of example would that be for their students?
“This has been a challenging year, so my biggest takeaway must be how impressed I am with my students. After over a year of upheaval and unknowns, the students here at Central have continued to work hard every day,” Sand said.
Students were not the only people who needed support this year and students were not the only ones who reached out when they needed help.
Jochim said, “We have amazing, supportive leaders and a strong community here at Central. I appreciate that we recognize when things get tough and work together to come up with ideas and solutions to make things better.”
Teachers and students alike have learned to lean on each other during this challenging time.
“My colleagues are some of the most supportive and awesome people in the world. I wouldn’t have made it to the end of the year without them,” Mahoney said.
Overall, the common takeaway from this year is that it was far from perfect and there are still challenges to come, but no one is alone. Through challenging times, it is important to have hope and to have people to rely on whether that person is a friend, family member, colleague, or teacher.
“This has been a year like no other. I’m proud to say that Central High has once again shown that its reputation as a school devoted to academic excellence has continued to hold true,” Sand said.