Although there were many concerns regarding the safety of students all over the world who are slowly integrating back into the standard face to face learning environment, the people who were arguably the most affected were the teachers. Ranging from personal health issues to family circumstances, teachers were equally affected by the recent pandemic as the students, if not even more. For the first three weeks of this school year, some teachers, like Judith Elliot and Amy Gross needed to teach from home while their students were all participating in remote learning.
“I teach AP Literature and Composition at West, and I have chronic illnesses that suppress my immune system,” Judith Elliot said. “I had a choice [to teach from home].”
Other than medical setbacks, some teachers were conflicted with the fact that teaching from home blurs the fine line between work and personal life.
“I have a first-grader, who is a six-year-old, and a third-grader, who is eight years old,” Amy Gross said. “Their virtual meetings [were] at different times and [did] not line up with the class times I teach.”
With her youngest child still needing assistance with troubleshooting Chromebook malfunctions and logging into the zoom calls, a normal school day for Gross was hectic.
“Honestly, I [felt] like I [was] being torn in a hundred directions,” Gross said. “I [felt] like if I put 100% of my focus on my classes, my own kids [were] being ignored. If I put 100% focus on my own kids, my students [were] being ignored.”
Parenting and teaching individually took a lot of work and time, and juggling the two simultaneously proved nearly impossible.
“I feel that it is virtually impossible to be 100% in two places at once,” Gross said. “When I taught virtually, if my kids did not have a live meeting, they were interrupting my online classes.”
To find a bit more balance in work and home life, Gross returned to school after the Labor day.
“I really wanted to get back to some type of normalcy,” Gross said. “I wanted to give my students my undivided attention, and I want my kids to receive their teacher’s undivided attention.”
Choosing between remote learning and face to face instruction is difficult for both students and teachers, who often have to make the decision for their own children.
“Only time will tell….no one has [an] answer,” Gross said. “But I am 100% confident that PISD is doing everything to keep everyone safe.”
As the required remote learning came to an end, both teachers and students are learning to adjust to the new hybrid schedules.
“There are no good answers to any of these situations,” Gross said. “But I care so much for my students that I want to be able to provide and be there for them.”