Local teachers discuss challenges of teaching during pandemic

Coronavirus

“This is something we haven’t ever experienced in our lives,” said Peggy Giuliano, a teacher for Newton Falls Schools

(WKBN) – Working together, being flexible and staying organized is necessary when it comes to teaching during a pandemic. 

“This is something we haven’t ever experienced in our lives,” said Peggy Giuliano, a teacher for Newton Falls Schools. “We’re all navigating through this, and there’s no road map telling us which is the right way, which is the wrong way.” 

That’s where those key terms of working together, being flexible and staying organized come into play because for teachers and students, this is difficult and unprecedented. Teachers as the leaders of their classes are looked at for the answers. 

“Keeping everything organized, seeing students on not repetitive days, keeping things organized for our online learners, it takes a lot of time to make lessons that formally were in-person learning lessons and figuring out how to put them online so they can reach our students and the students can get something from them,” said Mary Arp, a teacher in Brookfield Schools.

Seeing students every other day is something Giuliano said is what is most challenging for her and other teachers she’s talked to. 

“The biggest challenge is our disconnect with the students because of their challenges of not being able to have…some of them don’t have good internet connection; some of them didn’t have computers,” Giuliano said. 

Each student received a Chromebook from the school, but she also said teachers just miss seeing and interacting with their students each day like they did just a year ago. 

Arp also said issues aren’t just impacting students but also the teachers. 

“I’ve been in the classroom for 28 years, so a lot of the things that we have available to us, I didn’t learn about those in college so it’s been a little difficult with the technology, at least from my end,” Arp said. 

Both said they’ve been contacted during off hours, but overall, that has subsided from the spring into the fall. 

“Our district has done a really good job of contacting students and families though if they haven’t been logging in, the teachers call, our support staff calls, our administrators call, we’ve sent our school resource officer out to check on students who haven’t logged in to make sure that we can provide them with something that they need,” Arp said. 

On the other hand, the teachers have seen some positives, including smaller class sizes, one-on-one teaching opportunities and learning more about technology, but Giuliano said she wouldn’t recommend online learning for students after watching them struggle. 

“We’ve begun to rely more on our people skills, too,” Giuliano said. “When we have a problem, we’re going to our peers now.” 

She also said parents have shown a deeper appreciation for what teachers go through on a daily basis after the pandemic started back in March, which she said her other teachers appreciate.

“The parents really began to see the struggle that, as a classroom teacher, the things that happen in class,” Giuliano said. “’How did you get my student to do this?’ ‘I can’t get my child to do this,’ and they see the struggle.” 

Part of that might be because when students are home, they don’t feel like they need to work, which Giuliano said she understands. Arp recommends students check their Google Classroom to stay on top of assignments to make sure everything is getting done. 

“I also would encourage all of our students and students everywhere, if you have questions to make sure that you’re reaching out to the teachers. We’re here to help,” Arp said. 

If they had to start all over, they’d tell their past selves to forget any traditional teaching techniques they’ve learned and to learn as much technology as possible because this is a new style of teaching and learning. 

“For everybody, parents, family members, community, this is something that we really need to work through together and so we all have to have patience with each other to make this work and provide what our kids need,” Arp said.

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