Thank You, Teachers


Isaac Rantala , Reporter

At the beginning of the 2020/2021 school year, students were allowed to attend school in person for the first time since March. Students could still choose to attend virtually, but the majority of the student body decided to physically come to school. Throughout this ordeal, teachers have had to adapt to changes in the way that they teach and overcome the difficulties of virtual school along with the students. 

The teachers were interviewed about their experiences being virtual and how their jobs have changed. They were asked about the changes in their workload, student behavior and attention span, and what they learned from being virtual. Surprisingly, most teachers said that they were less stressed during the virtual period, but it makes sense. When we were in person for school, the teachers still had to cater to the needs of students who chose to go virtual. This meant planning and monitoring two different classes at the same time. When asked how their jobs changed this year, the teachers had different responses based on the subject they teach. They talked about how their jobs changed when virtual, but also while in person with the restrictions. 

Jodi Truchon, who teaches band, said “As a band teacher, my job changed quite a lot during the virtual period. In school, there were many restrictions put on our music department as far as playing instruments. When we were all virtual, I was allowed to have my students play their instruments in the safety of their own homes. This was a great feeling. The downfall to this was that we could not rehearse with all instruments hearing each other at the same time because of the lag that happens in Zoom. I also had difficulty at times where my own internet connection was not always optimal and my students could not hear me teach. I appreciate the recordings students turned in for me. It definitely was not as easy to troubleshoot note or instrument issues during this time.” 

Nicole Kavajecz, who teaches high school choir, had a similar answer to this question, “[During in-person learning] It has been a challenge to teach music with all the restrictions changing the way we are able to. Especially for my choirs, which haven’t been allowed to sing indoors. [During virtual learning] It was a welcome relief to be able to hear my students sing, and know we were all staying safe at home.” She also teaches 4K, so she had a different answer for that. “For the 4K classroom, while we were face-to-face changed very little even with the new routines. However virtual education for them made me rely on their parents’/caregivers’ support more than ever.”

David Gustafson, who teaches 5th grade, said, “During this pandemic, a lot was added to a teacher’s plate. Of course trying to implement all the safety protocols in our class and school was a big process. The biggest change was when students were given the option of attending school virtually or in-person. This required preparing both paper copies of work for the students in class, as well as a digital version for those online. The amount of prep time to do this was as if I was teaching two separate classes.”

Erika Suo had a similar opinion to David Gustafson. She said, “In order to provide both in-person and virtual instruction on a daily basis, I’ve needed to learn how to make my lessons digital so I can teach them over Zoom. This has taken a lot of extra planning time. I’ve also had to reduce the amount of hands-on activities we usually do because of the need for social distancing. I really miss taking the students on field trips.”

Ryan Tiberg teaches PE and Health, so his opinion was different than everyone else previously mentioned. He said, “PE is a very hands on subject, so being virtual is not the same in any way. I have some restrictions as far as what sports or activities I can do, because of 6 feet of space or number of students in each class. My weight room portions of classes have basically been eliminated this year. During the virtual I tried to allow students to choose activities they could do from home to receive credit for not being here face to face. PE is a face to face class, so the virtual model is not effective. Health is more information gathering, so virtual it can be accomplished more effectively.”

Jodi Truchon and Nicole Kavajecz had more common ground in their answers because they teach similar subjects. This is the same with the elementary teachers. Ryan Tiberg had a slightly different answer because he teaches something very different from most other teachers. While being virtual can possibly make students and teachers more stressed or lower morale, being virtual can make us all appreciate being in person again. The teachers were asked about the most valuable lesson they learned from being virtual:

Jodi Truchon said, “It is important to be open and willing to try new things as you never know what good can come out of a less than optimal situation.”

David Gustafson said, “The most valuable thing I learned was that you need to be flexible. It is difficult for a 10 year old to sit in front of a computer and have their full attention for long periods of time. Sometimes you might not get everything you hoped to accomplish done in one class period. That is alright. Tomorrow is another day.”

Erika Suo said, “I realized how much our students and staff really enjoy attending school and working at South Shore. The students were not very happy about the times we needed to be virtual. I think we all have a new appreciation for the positive learning environment in our school building.”

Ryan Tiberg said, “The most valuable thing I learned during the virtual period is students who do well in school face to face will also do well in the virtual setting. Students who have a hard time face to face for the most part will have a hard time with virtual as well.”

Nicole Kavajecz said, “How flexible some students and families are.”

Being virtual can dampen our spirits, but being able to appreciate each other is very important. Understanding how much work our teachers do for us can show us how much they care about us and our education. Being virtual shed a lot of light on that. We want to say “THANK YOU!” to all of the teachers here at South Shore for everything they do.