One month into the 2021-22 school year, Cedar Shoals teachers still face unique circumstances: they have to keep their distance, enforce masks and rethink lesson plans.
“I’m always thinking if I plan to do something, can it also be virtual, can I also do it for the kids who might not be here, or should we have to shut down again. It really does come down to just rethinking every single thing you do to make sure that it’s safe,” Garrett Walker, social studies department, said.
Teachers are working tirelessly to aid students in a return to some normalcy, despite concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re communicating with students, making routines and trying to help reduce uncertainty.
“Building a routine can help ease some of that anxiety, because they start to know what to expect when we get in here,” Hannah Doolittle, English department, said. Doolittle was also a first year teacher last year when Clarke County School District was virtual.
Even with these concerns over the pandemic, teachers are still providing a safe learning environment and experience. They clean between classes, practice social distancing and try to provide a normal classroom setting.
“Since it’s the beginning of the year, something I’ve been really trying to focus on is building classroom community. For example, while maintaining social distance, talking to the person next to you and getting to know them,” Doolittle said.
In addition to continuing to adjust their classrooms, teachers are making sure to find a good balance between work and life, and taking time for themselves.
“I usually get to school early and make sure I have a plan for the rest of the week. I try to grade and prepare during my planning period. When I’m at home, I try not to do any kind of work,” Walker said.
Before an announcement that high school instruction would be virtual for one week from Sept. 7-10, Walker wondered, “What is the cut off of how many cases each school or the district is okay with before we have to stop something?” That question still has no direct answer.
Despite all these concerns, teachers are ultimately happy to be back doing what they trained for and love to do: being in the classroom and teaching students in-person.
“I feel so much more confident now that we’re back in the building and I can actually visually see my students. Classroom management is so much easier when you’re in person. Being back in-person has made this job 100 million times easier and better,” Doolittle said.