Teachers miss daily interaction with students

By Emily Wilson

Assistant Editor

Students and teachers in the Blue Springs school district, like those across America, thought they were being sent home for a week of Spring Break back in March 2020. No one knew that it would be the last in person day of school for the year. After making the jump to online learning, teachers at South have had a lot of time to reflect on this change.

Across the board, teachers are missing their time with students in person and being able to gauge their understanding. Sara Mumaw, South math teacher, is feeling this struggle a lot.

“Teaching is way better when you have people to connect with,” she said.  “It’s really boring when it’s just you talking to your computer screen, making a recording. I think I appreciate more the day to day interactions that happen in the classroom that are missing now.”

Mumaw is not alone in that sentiment. South history teacher Elizabeth Roberts is feeling the effects of online learning as well.

“I was unprepared for the feeling of isolation from my students.  Online teaching without Zoom or Teams class meetings is like teaching to silence.  You know you’re teaching, but you can’t see faces or reactions to judge whether it’s too much, not enough or if anyone understands the significance of the content.”

Teaching to silence is many teachers’ worst fear and this pandemic has made that fear a reality to so many during this time. Many teachers have taken the last few weeks to try their best to communicate with students through daily video logs or through programs like Zoom, but with the normal “7-2 work-day” out the window, the attendance for these things has been very low. Communication is a cornerstone piece of education and looking forward into a classroom post quarantine, most if not all teachers are excited to cherish that again.

Ashleigh Bertrand, a South English teacher and Senate sponsor, is one of many teachers who feel this way.

“I’ll continue to value and make time for conversations. My students know that I can get off track with stories, but that’s when you learn about people. I also think I’ll attempt to slow my instructional pace. I’m always concerned about doing/adding more, but this has reminded me to slow down,” she says. “Not everything needs to be rushed.”

Roberts says that a major take away she has discovered from online learning is that we can all slow down during this time. She says her favorite part has been not living by a bell and taking a pace that is flexible for her and her students. She also said that this topic and feeling has been a major conversation in all Teacher Leadership Committee meetings they have had since we left the classroom. Roberts feels this experience has been a good one in the sense that it has reminded her, as it has for many, why she loves her job.

“I probably could have predicted, but I have confirmed just how much I value daily contact with my people – students and colleagues alike.  I am not a person meant to do a solitary job.  I also have confirmed that I am NOT ready to retire – and I thought maybe I was!”

Teachers have been looking forward to next school year for quite some time, but they also want students to be at ease when transitioning back.

“I know I’ll have to meet my students where they are in August. Their spring semester was short-changed, so they won’t be as prepared for next year’s classes,” says Bertrand.

Also looking forward to next year, Mumaw, like many others, already has been thinking about ideas to make learning even better in a post-quarantine classroom. She plans to incorporate her new knowledge of online video notes to create options for students to learn from home when they are absent compared to the alternative of students reading through a pre-filled out format of the days lesson.

Lastly, the teachers interviewed wanted to leave a sentiment for all students during this time.

Bertrand wanted her students to feel comfort going into next time and to remind them their teachers are thinking of them.

“I miss them. Even the ornery ones. Especially the ornery ones. I hope that they’re all safe and taken care of. I hope that they’re ready to return to school in the fall prepared to make up for lost time!” -Bertrand

Mumaw wanted to use this chance to thank students for their hard work.

“You have risen to the occasion and I hope you have learned that you are strong and very capable of doing things beyond what you thought possible. Don’t forget to appreciate the people in your life and try to avoid taking the little joys in life for granted in the future. I wish we could have had a proper goodbye. Best wishes to all the seniors. Know that we are all just an email away if you ever need anything.”

Roberts wanted her moment to remind her students they are still a part of her jaguar family, even outside of the classroom.