Pandemic vs. teachers

How teachers are handling in-school and online classes at the same time


Caden Rainwater

A TISD teacher eyes the computer before her that currently acts as a virtual classroom for her online students. Teachers rearranged their curriculum in order to comply with the at-home learners.

Story by Aislyn Echols, opinion editor

With the recent pandemic, schools have had to rearrange their teaching and curriculum to accommodate in-school as well as online learners. Most people think of how this change will affect the students, but people hardly think of the struggle for the teachers.

Teachers had to rearrange an entire year’s worth of work in order to make it doable for both in-school and online students. Projects and assignments that would’ve been hands-on class work have been altered or cancelled altogether trying to adjust to this new teaching style. 

“I teach three classes, and one of them is new to me this year. [With] the classes that I teach, I can’t use any of the projects that we’ve used before,” engineering teacher Julie Suelzer said. “I’m having to redo a lot of my curriculum and a lot of the stuff that we’ve done in the past.”

While students complain about having to work in class and then turn in assignments online, they rarely think of the strain that is put on the teacher to grade all the work. Keeping up with the workload alone is trying enough, but having to grade it as well is a different beast entirely.

“It’s not necessarily a classroom management issue. That is not where I am struggling. It’s not even the lesson planning that I’m struggling with,” American Sign Language teacher Britni Huggins said. “For me, the struggle is on the end portion of it, [like] collecting grades, collecting work back from the students and having the time to grade the work. In years past, everybody passed up the paper. It was in a stack. You went through it and graded it. Now, your classroom kids pass up a paper, [and] you grade it. Then, you go online, find the assignment, grade it and return it.”

The new way of teaching has forced just as many, if not more, constraints on the teachers as it has with students. When it comes to problems they both have faced, there is one common denominator: time. When it comes to time, students worry about procrastination, but teachers have been given a new type of time constraints.

“It’s just time management,” art teacher Tyson Feemster said. “You have to watch how you use your time because [grading and making assignments] is very time-consuming. If you don’t stay on task, it’s very easy to get behind. Time management is the main thing you need to look out for and pay attention to in order to get things done.”

The simple advantages that most students can take for granted when asking for help with school work could be shocking to most. While they can open a web browser and search the answers online or ask friends for the answers, teachers who create the assignments don’t always have those luxuries.

“I seek out [assignments] that are premade online,” Huggins said. “That way there’s a little less prep work, and I can take that prep time and turn it into grading time, [though] my content is so specific that there just isn’t a lot of outside help.”

No matter how hard it is to manage the new system of running things, there are some perks to teaching during COVID-19.

“Since we started last year, it has made [working with online and in school kids] a little bit easier,” Feemster said. “It’s a little bit more involved now [than] it was when I first began. I might have taken the same assignment or project [from last year], [but] I get to expand on it this year.”

Through the hardships and trials faced by teachers, there can be a bright shining light of hope in the midst of this darkness. They are truly trying to look out for the best opportunities for the students.

“I just hope the kids that need help are getting help, and teachers that need help are getting the help they can get and keep on keeping on through the school year,” Suelzer said. “Administration has been really helpful with the changes, and I think we’ll be able to [make it] through this year.”