How do Teachers feel about Hybrid Learning?

Peter Sawchuk

Whilst beneficial for many, the return to in-person school hasn’t been without its troubles. With the school not having enough laptops to distribute, teachers scrambling to teach both the remote and in-person students, and West High staff and faculty doing their best to enforce COVID-19 compliant policies, it’s fair to say the transition to hybrid learning hasn’t been entirely smooth. Every person has a unique situation determining whether in-person schooling is best for them, but one set of voices seems to be lost in a sea of opinions and polemic debate: that of our very own teachers.

Many teachers were exuberant to go back and to be teaching to actual people, rather than black boxes with student’s names on them: “It’s nice to see students in real life – that said – there is still so little interaction, it’s a little bit exhausting” said Yoga teacher Ali Mills. Although far from normal, many teachers much prefer working with students face-to-face, “I’m very glad we are back, at least in some form”, said Garth McFarland, Health Sciences teacher and Athletics Trainer,  “I hope we can open up more very soon.” Other teachers have expressed less enthusiasm, citing low in-person attendance or slight pros to in-person instruction: “In-person school with Canvas is marginally better than remote learning because there are many issues with technology.” (Adam Harmstead, Language Arts teacher).  Mrs. Richardson echoed Mr. Harmstead’s thoughts “I don’t really have any feelings about it. At this point, I’m just rolling with it”. Most teachers are glad to be back in-person, but have also struggled with the transition.

Right when many of us were becoming complacent with online learning, the district opted to allow voluntary in-person schooling. Students and teachers were eager to get back, however, this presented some unforeseen difficulties. Before, teachers only had to worry about the students online, but now, they have to try and teach any in-person students alongside those who opted to stay home. About teaching through multiple mediums, music teacher Brian Blodgett said “I try to engage the at-home kids, but it’s the same… ‘hey… are you there??’  ‘Turn on your camera’, ‘Can you answer the question?’… **no response**.’” Mrs. Richardson finds hybrid learning difficult because “I’m afraid I’m not giving the online and the in-person students equal time, or that I’m not accommodating their learning styles enough.” There is no question that hybrid learning has come with both prosperity and adversity.

What about the health aspect? Do teachers feel safe teaching in-person classes? Garth McFarland believes  “It’s very, very safe.  I think it is very safe even if all students came each day according to the alphabet” whilst teacher Denise Pfeiffer thinks “Considering the low numbers, I think we might have been better to stay all online.” West High teachers have all had the opportunity to be vaccinated, and have shared their thoughts. Mrs. Pfeiffer said about the Covid-19 vaccine that it is “Wonderful. Our best hope” and only had slight side effects after the first dose, and none after the second. While multiple teachers reported symptoms after a dosage of the vaccine, none were long-lasting or particularly severe.

Learning during a global pandemic has presented challenges none of us could have ever predicted, but West High teachers and staff have been working very hard to make this experience some form of normal. When you get a chance, make sure to thank your teachers, or any West High staff for that matter, for learning an entirely new format and working hard for us students. Finally, Mrs. Richardson’s closing thoughts for students: “Every student that I’ve worked with has been amazing. Thank you for being in my classes. As far as the COVID-19 vaccine, look at the science. You are all critical thinkers, and you should be able to decide what is best for you. Be empowered, and do it if it is right for you”