Staff Shortage Affecting the Normal School Procedure

By ELLA MOSCO

The 2021 school year has had limited staff members in the building due to COVID-19. After our winter break, there was an outbreak of COVID-19. This caused many staff members to be out of the building for long periods of time. When many teachers are out it is difficult to find substitutes or teachers that are able to cover classes.

 

Classes without teachers to cover them have been held in the auditorium. It can be challenging for students and teachers to communicate when utilizing Google Classroom and email. In addition, all teachers have different methods of teaching whether they teach asynchronously or synchronously.

 

IHS German Department’s Dr. Stephan Schaffrath, whose classes have been held in the auditorium, explained the difficulty that comes with it. “The only times my classes were held in the auditorium were when I was teaching remotely and synchronously. In my case, it simply added another layer of complexity and possible distractions for students. It was the best available option at the time, but not a very efficient option. Actual learning time went down to probably around 50% to 60%.”

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Dr. Sarah Bond, who teaches Ninth grade English at IHS, commented,I would say that teaching asynchronously affects what I choose will be taught the day (days) I am absent.  The format might not be what I would have done if I was in the room, but online platforms like EdPuzzle, NewsELA, and CommonLit have helped as they have options for guiding students through the activity/material.” The websites that most teachers use can be a resource for independent learning while teachers are unable to be in the classroom. Along with Dr. Bond, Dr. Schaffrath also had to teach from home but unlike Dr. Bond, Dr. Schaffrath chose to teach synchronously through Google Meet. However, while being able to talk to his students “live” through Google Meet, it still had some challenges.  Dr. Schaffrath states, “The most challenging part of teaching from home is that it is very difficult to gauge what students are doing and what their learning challenges and needs are. Some of that can be done remotely, but not when limited bandwidth makes it impossible to have everyone turn their camera on. A very well developed asynchronous set-up might actually be better than an impromptu synchronous approach.” Dr. Schaffrath indicated it is harder to teach online because you don’t get the student engagement that you would be used to as a teacher in the classroom. 

 

When classes are held asynchronously or synchronously, there are potentially extra added distractions that Dr. Bond, Dr. Schaffrath, and any other teacher have to deal with. And with students possibly not being focused on the class, further improvements and adaptations of instruction has had to be adopted and utilized by IHS teachers.

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