Teachers and Distance Learning


Anthony Darin, Staff Writer

The 2020-2021 year at SWRHS is off to a unique start due to the presence of the Covid-19 pandemic, which began in March of 2020. Everyone in the school has been affected by this in some form, but it is the teacher’s perspective that attracts little attention from the students. We have conducted interviews with teachers to try to gain a better understanding of what this new school year is like for them. 

Masks and periods of virtual learning are two of the most prominent examples of the difference between this school year and previous ones. “I would say the biggest difference is just missing the one-on-one contact when I am trying to assess if the group is really understanding everything or not, so I definitely miss being able to easily read faces so this way I know how to proceed,” said Mrs. Jennifer Zito, a physics teacher and a long-time member of our community. This possibility of a sudden switch to virtual learning has given many teachers a sense of unpredictability coming into this school year. “Basically, I’ve learned my lesson of not leaving here at the end of the day fully assuming that we are going to be back here the next day,” said Mrs. Zito.

Teachers have felt more prepared than they did at the start of the pandemic and virtual learning last year because they knew going into this school that they should expect the unexpected. They have adapted and modified their curriculums to be more flexible to the current situation. “It is hard because we don’t know what’s coming. I think my preparation has just been really utilizing google classroom to its fullest, using all of the great tools that are out there, and getting everyone engaged in both locations [school and at home],” said Mrs. Jennifer Medordi, a technology teacher in her second year at our high school. 

It is a common belief among teachers that there have been some benefits to the change in the school system during this pandemic. They say that virtual learning has helped students become independent and helped them better work at their own pace. “People are becoming learners that are going out and finding the research they need to find to get the answers,” said Mrs. Medordi. 

Teachers often state that their number one priority this year is managing health. Precautions such as wearing masks, keeping six feet between each person, and switching to online learning when needed are all steps that have been taken to protect our physical health. Those, such as math teacher Mrs. Melissa Hollywood, believe that physical health is not the only thing that must be protected to keep members of our community healthy. “It’s more worrying about the mental and emotional health of my students rather than how much content I cover. The quality is definitely going to be more important this year than the quantity. It’s more important every year, but I feel like this year it is going to take a little bit longer to get that quality.”

Covid-19 has made this year difficult for everyone, but teachers are doing their best to make the most out of the time they have at school. As Mrs. Medordi said during the period of virtual learning in early November, “Teachers are at school looking at empty chairs, but I came in here and I said, ‘I’m going to appreciate today, I’m going to use the best technology we can put out there, I’m going to be able to say hi to all of the students that sign in today,’ and the same goes for when everyone is in-person.”