Even Our Teachers Are Learning!

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Calandra McLaughlin

As we began returning to a semi-normal life with hybrid learning, there was a lot to learn not only for students but also for the teachers. There are so many little things that we have had to unlearn, such as high fives. This is what we do to congratulate someone, say goodbye, and it is something so minuscule yet something so significant. Now, think about all the big things teachers have had to unlearn, relearn, and just learn in general, to make sure we have a safe and steady return to school.

“If I’m being honest, it is the feeling that I have no idea what I’m doing. Very little in the last 18 years of my career has prepared for this kind of teaching, so it feels like my first year all over again.”  Mrs. Gipe, an English teacher at Palmer stated after speaking with her about the difficulties of e-learning. No teacher in the universe has been trained for this kind of situation which makes it even more complex than it already is. While speaking with Social Studies teacher Mr. Ferguson, he stated “I feel fueled by student energy and in this environment, thinking through how to approximate that in some way is something I care about and two varying degrees depending on the day, is accomplished and sometimes not so much.” Trying to keep up student’s energy virtually is harder than it was when in-person and somedays it is not always present which makes the learning environment unsteady for more than just students.

Beth Morrow once said, “The strength of our student relationships makes the difference in translating our passion for teaching into their passion for learning.” This quote was very relevant while interviewing Palmer teachers because many spoke of how difficult forming relationships with their students had become. “I feel like it’s hard to connect to students when they are behind their initials.” said Mrs. McGilvray, a Digital Media teacher at Palmer. “It has been really difficult to not see their faces and understand how they’re reacting to things and how they’re feeling throughout the day.” exclaimed Ms. Byzmek a Social Studies teacher at Palmer. Both of their statements are so simple, but they reflect on the most unyielding part of teaching right now. Student-teacher relationships are so important because if you have a good relationship with your students then those relationships will translate to your teaching an instill the love of learning into students, but that has become more difficult through a screen and a six-foot distance.

Mrs. Gipe later said, “This isn’t going to be anyone’s gold-star year, so don’t be hard on yourself if you aren’t meeting your own expectations. Everyone is a little lost…some of us are a lot lost. Be kind, hydrate, and eat a vegetable. Take care of you and the people you love.” Remember this on the hard days, you are learning so don’t beat yourself up. Palmer teachers, you guys are doing amazing! Thank you for bending over backwards every day to make sure that each student has the best possible opportunity to succeed!

Teaching during a pandemic is not what you signed up for but you’re doing it and you’re doing it well, so keep learning, keep reaching out, keep pushing your students, and keep reminding yourself you are doing a good job!