Coronavirus forces sacrifice and leads to innovation
Teachers have always been subject to a certain societal pressure to succeed: they are accountable for educating the next generation, after all. They are having to face new challenges teaching in the global pandemic. Crucial to academic development, teachers are given little leniency amid this global crisis, especially when the safety concerns are, now more than ever, absolute. For example, teachers must enforce the mask mandate and are expected to correct misbehavior regarding it. Jeffersonville High School is a school that relied on traditional means of education, the norm was physically going to school. However, which path is the right way is no longer clear, and the traditional method no longer stands alone.
Ahnya Evinger, a grade 9 English teacher, is balancing the needs of both traditional and online students. “It is important to understand that different students have different needs, and different families have different needs,” she said. Teachers must now cater to two different student bodies in the same classroom atmosphere. “It’s like everything else at the beginning of the year: getting into the swing of things, and starting to adjust to having students simultaneously in both methods.”
Teachers must familiarize themselves with new online systems and can no longer rely on physical work alone. Traditional schooling presents challenges, and they are expected to adhere to safety regulations as well as enforce them. Since going back, they must follow a new protocol, which includes wearing a mask, frequently washing hands, and cleaning desks between classes. With this new year, despite its massive shifts, they are prepared.
“I appreciate that Greater Clark County Schools is on the cutting edge as far as technology goes,” said Evinger. “When we had to shut down in March, we were prepared for E-Learning. We had already practiced that.” They had insight into what the future may look like despite COVID developments, which gave them leverage when it came to schooling online.
Students are also learning how to navigate this new online system and adjust to other changes. For example, block scheduling was implemented this year. Evinger says the block schedule allows for more time to interact with students. “It also gives me that time to really get to know my students right off the bat,” Evinger said. “I’m spending more than an hour with them everytime I’m with them.” A large influx of collaborative effort has also poured into the new year as well. Teachers are relying on one another a lot more and depending on their students to continue doing their part whether they are in the classroom or not.
Learning to prioritize certain matters and procedures has been instrumental in establishing these new grounds. There are times where safety takes precedence, even if that means taking the last few minutes of class to sanitize the room.
Essentially, the current circumstances have required trade-offs and sacrifices, while also revealing opportunities to make learning more effective for everyone. “There are teachers all over the building who are pivoting what they’re doing. They’ve realized that what they’ve worked on and done in the past might not work this year, and so they’ve had to pivot in a new direction […] and finding new ways to reach their audience,” Evinger stated. This new year has proved the resilience among staff and students, and we can only hope it will continue to expand.
Written by Amber Walker