With the final end of this school year on the horizon, many students and teachers are looking forward to a less coronavirus-dominated society. As of now (May 16), a total of 39.1% of Nebraskans, or 756,234 people, have completed the vaccination process. These are very uplifting numbers that nobody could’ve predicted in March of 2020 when quarantine was officially enforced in Lincoln. And last summer, as the year progressed into the 2020-2021 school year, Covid-19 concerns were still legitimate, and prevalent in schools.
One of the main concerns of the teachers this past year has been combating the difficulty of keeping their teaching effective and interactive for all students. is a history teacher at East, and has 35 years of teaching experience. Due to the unfamiliar nature of Covid-19, he struggled with the idea of how he would be able to properly teach his students.
“There was definitely a learning curve for me,” Hubbell said. “But I’d say by the third week of school I was beginning to feel much more comfortable using Zoom and teaching in class at the same time.”
Though Zoom has been used throughout the year, it should be the last resort in the upcoming school years due to the disconnection between teacher and student. Teachers have had to rearrange their teaching methods in the hopes that the Zoom students will be able to grasp the material. Even if both teacher and student can see one another, they’re really looking into a screen, and not at the other person.has been a science teacher at East for 3 years, and she describes the unease that Zoom learning brought.
“I was nervous at the beginning of the year as to what classes would look like because I generally like to incorporate activities where students are working together,” Paswaters said. “I was also concerned about how to make chemistry learning most effective on Zoom.”
Another substantial concern from the teaching staff was about the safety of returning to the school building. Hubbell describes how he was primarily concerned “…with how bad this could possibly be.” And after quarantining from March 2020 to August, Paswaters was apprehensive about being back at school. Yet, after the school year was well underway, and safety measures were firmly in place, both teachers began to feel the effects of half empty classrooms.
“I’m glad we could at least be partially in person the entire school year,” Paswaters said. “This year has shown me how truly important making personal connections with students is for their learning.”
Not being in the same room restricts teacher-student interaction, and can cause a decrease in information the student absorbs. “Something was lost in this process,” Hubbell said. “I felt my teaching suffered, because I couldn’t do the things I’d normally do when all students are in class.”
Undeniably, this year has taught how important basic relationships are, and that screens cannot replace people. In the preceding years, nobody took precaution before going to school, or to the store. Nobody understood the value of saying ‘Good morning’ to their teacher everyday. But quarantine, Zoom leaning, and social distancing have educated everybody by stripping away a fairly normal part of life: true connection.
“It has reinforced that getting to know students is my favorite part about teaching,” Paswaters said. “It was difficult to do that over Zoom and has been something I genuinely miss.”
We now have more to look forward to in the coming years, and while they may be small experiences, they’re still meaningful. Whether it’s working in small groups, eating lunch with friends, or doing science labs, interacting with people can never be replaced.