Graphic by Hope Stewart
The shift from in-person school to online school has taken a toll, not only on students, but on the teachers at Buena as well. It’s been a rough year to say the least, but teachers are still grateful for the connections they have made with their students this year.
“This year has been a struggle for everybody,” history teacher Rebecka Rithner said. “I think most people did the best that they could”.
Teachers and students alike struggled with the hardships of this school year via Zoom, Canvas, and for some, transferring back to in-person classes. Teachers had a difficult time getting to know students on a personal level and making sure their students were completing their work.
For instance, home economics teacher Teresa Hayes had a particularly difficult time adjusting to in-person and hybrid schedule since they relied on non-social distanced emotional support when dealing with the stressful school year.
“Us teachers would rely on each other, cry on each other’s shoulders, and bounce ideas off each other,” Hayes said.
Sadly, most teachers’ biggest worries were making connections with their students. Teachers rarely had the opportunity to see or hear students via Zoom due to the mute option and lack of cameras being turned on. Due to this many teachers could only communicate to students through email and the app Remind.
“One of the most difficult problems this school year was not knowing how to create meaningful relationships with students on video call,” math teacher Michael Stewart said. “Personal relationships are at the center of teaching… I had to figure out new ways of creating bonds online, and that was, and is very tricky”.
On top of the lack of communication teachers worried greatly about their students’ mental health and personal opinions in regard to the curriculum. All teachers wanted was the best for their students and to help keep them engaged despite the difficulties.
“I wish I could wipe away the distress many students felt this year or help students rely on themselves more and appreciate how tough and resilient they are,” Rithner said.
Buena’s new Physiology teacher, Michael Chiarella, positively impacted students through his optimism and confidence that he put on display for the benefit of students. Although, he found it challenging to keep students upbeat and positive and show students that he knew they were doing their best and above all he appreciated them
“I felt positive about this school year, it was obviously different but we all worked together and it was a good learning experience” Chiarella said.
On the bright side, teachers look forward to next year since the classrooms will be back to its lively environment seen in previous years. . Full-time in person school will allow stress levels to reduce on both the students and teachers end. This will also help to build better relationships, and better communication between students and their teachers.
“I am very much looking forward to having a classroom full of students again! Let’s do this!” Stewart said.