Local teachers share thoughts on road ahead for learning

In March of 2020, learning changed for teachers, students, and parents due to restrictions from the pandemic. Teachers were forced to find a new way to teach while students tried to learn the best they could. As a new year approached DECU decided to ask teachers in the area what they expect to see moving forward.

“I see education taking bits and pieces of what the pandemic has forced us to become experts at, coupled with the significant revelation that students learn best when they are with a teacher in person, and creating a new atmosphere in schools,” said Hannah Lybarger a Mathematics Teacher at Eisenhower High School and Department Chair.

Hannah said the new atmosphere has also cultivated a new way to learn and bring about independence and problem solving for students.

“When students and teachers were placed in survival mode during the pandemic, everyone rose to the occasion and conquered new technology, new relationship-building techniques, new teaching/learning skills, new problem-solving skills, etc,” said Hanna.

Teachers say they will have to be in the know of how students are feeling once they return to in-person learning full time. The shift might be hard for some as they navigate a social environment again or for the first time.

Ron Lybarger, an English teacher, and Department Chair for Eisenhower High School said when it comes to remediation “teachers will be assessing the potential loss of acquired knowledge and skill, as well as the lasting effects on the social/emotional well-being of students, from being remote for over a year.”

Ron said he hopes teachers will have a strong understanding of where students are regarding skills and state standards. He hopes each teacher will create a welcoming environment as schools continue to look toward the technology future for learning.

As teachers prepare for a new year, whether it be fully in-person, a hybrid approach, or back to remote, they say the next months will be important to see where students are.

“Despite all of the new and innovative teaching and learning, there is always the concern that students will have significant learning loss. The challenge for teachers in the coming months will be to assess exactly where their students are at academically and develop individualized learning plans to get all students on grade level,” said Hanna.

Teachers say they have the ability to adapt to the changes the best they can, but challenges will still arise in education as they move forward no matter the teaching format. Eighth-grade language arts teacher Tami Roberts at Stephen Decatur Middle School said educators will face new challenges head-on just like they did in March of 2020.

“Beyond the typical challenges we face in the education system, I can foresee a gap in learning being an issue that we will be facing in the near future. If we rely heavily on technology in the future, I fear that students will lose the ability to make personal connections with others - this is actually something I fear for every age group if the technology becomes a tool, we rely too heavily on as we move forward,” said Tami.

However, Ron could see some forms of online learning continue.

"I potentially see the district utilizing a hybrid approach in instances of prolonged absence for students so that they can remain in the academic loop while away from school."

Hanna hopes all the challenges inspire change.

“Taking what we’ve all experienced and learned the past year, I see education metamorphosing into something new, exciting, and inspiring!”