Teachers face new challenges with hybrid learning – USJ Best of 2020

Separate cohorts complicate teaching


Hannah Edelheit

Adapting to a new normal: English teacher David Rowe wasn’t expecting the craziness surround 2020. Students and teachers are adjusting to a new reality with socially distanced classrooms and hybrid learning. “I realize this is not the sort of situation that anyone wants going into any year of high school, and I really feel that most of them come give me genuine effort,” Rowe said. “That sort of positive spirit – I really appreciate that.”

Hannah Edelheit and Jane McCauley

This article was originally published in the October 2020 issue of the Union Street Journal. The USJ staff voted this article as the best of 2020 in-depth.

Early August was a time of uncertainty for everyone. The district has not told teachers or students about a plan for in-person learning and science teacher Conley Flynn didn’t know how to prepare for her incoming students.

“It was definitely stressful not knowing exactly what was going to happen and having the constant change of plan,” Flynn said.

Hybrid learning has been difficult to structure and adapt to. Teachers are trying to assign work in a way that is easy for everyone and it is becoming more difficult to work with students when they aren’t actually there.

“I feel that we’re all beginning to adapt and adjust to try to optimize the opportunities within that sort of hybrid model, but it certainly again presents certain challenges,” English teacher David Rowe said.

Teachers are still able to interact with students; however, it is different from what they used to do.

“I’m really happy being around the students and seeing how you guys have adapted to it,” Flynn said. “Part of the reason why I wanted to be a teacher is because I want to interact with kids, and so being able to do that, I think, is great. Although it is nervewracking sometimes.”

The social scene has changed for Creek as well because events that students would expect every year, like homecoming, are canceled. Campus energy has also changed because our communication has changed from a lack of facial expressions.

“There is so much that you lose in terms of facial expression and in social energy that I feel like my students are making a genuine effort in terms of their work, but I feel like they miss out on some of the energy that you typically get socially, so I think it can really be a challenge,” Rowe said.

Even though students and teachers are trying their best to make the two day system work, it doesn’t come without challenges. Managing two different sections has caused teachers to have to cut out work.

“I’ve actually had to cut things that I actually think would be beneficial,” said history teacher Virginia DeCesare. “I usually have a term paper, but I had to cut that because I don’t have time to teach it.”

Organization for teachers has been hard because they have to balance two groups of students and make sure that everyone is getting the same instruction.

“It’s a challenge for both the teachers and the students just staying organized in a way that makes sense for everybody and then figuring out how to teach this way is a huge adjustment for the teachers,” Flynn said.

It has also been more time consuming to grade and assign work. Technology has complicated the work process for everyone.

“Grading online takes much longer than grading a stack of papers,” DeCesare said. “Somebody submitted a file that my computer can’t read so then I have got to see if I can read it on my phone.”

Both teachers and students are working to make this system work as it has been difficult for everyone.

“I’m really proud of the effort and how everyone’s doing their very best,” Principal Ryan Silva said. “Whether it’s to adapt to the new learning and teaching environment or to wearing a mask all the time.”