Michigan teachers say they are struggling to control classrooms and connect with students amidst the transition from virtual to 100% face-to-face.
During the 2020-21 school year, Woodhaven, Taylor and East Lansing school districts gave students two options: virtual or face-to-face learning. Taylor schools had 70% of students opt for virtual learning while Woodhaven had 30%, officials said.
Currently, all three school districts are 100% face-to-face, with masks mandatory for students and faculty. Some students are having a difficult time returning to full classrooms, teachers said.
East Lansing High School math teacher Madelyn Zink said, “many of my freshmen have not been in school since sixth grade and their lives are very different now. The drama is unreal.”
Taylor High School geometry teacher Jennifer Phillips relates. “Students have to learn how to act again. They aren’t used to being at school with rules and expectations guiding their day,” she said.
A large problem in Phillips’ classes is students sneaking on their phones, which she attributes to increased screen time and phone access during last school year.
Phillips said she is taking a gentler approach to disciplining in hopes of giving students “time to acclimate back to the classroom environment.”
Kinyon Elementary School math and reading resource teacher Gregory Long said many Taylor students are behind academically.
“A lot of the fifth graders are struggling with adding and subtracting with regrouping. This is a concept they should’ve mastered in third grade,” Long said.
In Woodhaven, some teachers are having a difficult time connecting with students, which is a problem they didn’t have before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Woodhaven High School history teacher Andrew Lambert said, “they [the students] are much more unfiltered now.
Lambert is trying to be more mindful of individual circumstances and is increasing communication to form better relationships with students.
https://youtu.be/_vf5nSpHIG4 (link to see Lambert’s video)
Lambert discusses the difficult transition back to the classroom for himself and students.
Therapist for adolescents Robin Jones said teachers must be patient with their students. “It’s important that teachers allow for some flexibility and are aware that the pandemic has been hard on teenagers.”
The Woodhaven, Taylor and East Lansing school boards have supported faculty during this difficult time, but getting the students back on board will ultimately have to happen in the classroom.