The struggle is real: Academy teachers share their perspectives on education in the pandemic
Classes still begin at their scheduled times, but that is about the only thing which has stayed the same for teachers at Campion Academy. Having to jump back and forth from in-person learning to a virtual classroom, and sometimes a mix of both, teachers are having to adapt in more ways than one.
Campion teachers have had to keep up with constantly updating safety precautions and remain flexible with sudden changes to their everyday routines. One day they could be giving a lecture in the classroom, and the very next day, they may find themselves leading class from their kitchen tables.
One thing is certain: teachers have to be prepared for the unexpected.
Even when classes are in-person, with COVID precautions, there are usually students who have to join virtually due to minor illnesses or potential exposure. Jill Harlow, Spanish and English teacher, described a little bit of what her days look like: “When I walk into my classroom, I’m running around sanitizing the desks, trying to switch on Zoom while students are walking in, and thinking to myself, ‘Ok what am I doing in class today, and what can I do to engage those one or two students on Zoom?”
This pandemic has challenged both new and experienced teachers.
Cindy Santana, who has been teaching at Campion since 2005, has come across many obstacles in the jump between virtual and in-person education. “Just using Zoom was a learning curve,’’ Santana commented. “Teaching for nine hours, grading, and doing the prep on top of all that makes for long days. When everybody’s here, you are a team; you have readers and other teachers to bounce ideas off of, but when we’re all on Zoom, we kind of operate in a vacuum. Sometimes, you feel like you’re going it alone.”
Campion’s chaplain and Bible teacher Nancy Meszaros, in her second year of teaching, has learned to use a variety of presentation tools to keep students interacting, but still recognizes the challenge the socially-distanced classroom presents. “I feel like sometimes my creative juices are no longer there. I want class to still be fun and engaging, but with so many regulations that always change, it’s hard to keep track and can be really draining.”
As the director for spiritual activities on campus, Meszaros added, “Another thing that has been difficult with this pandemic has been trying to find creative activities and programming to reach students spiritually. A lot of activities require mingling and close interaction, so we can’t do those things anymore.”
In spite of all the challenges, Campion teachers have chosen to stay positive and try to make learning as engaging as possible. Harlow elaborated: “God has blessed us through everything. All of us have learned to adapt. Students are still learning, and we teachers are still forming positive relationships with them. Even online, we can laugh or have deep spiritual conversations that bring us together. And there is light at the end of the tunnel; we are all looking forward to being back on campus together in the coming weeks.”
Sami Hodges, Student News Team
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