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Article: Teaching During a Pandemic: Mrs. Jessica Long

Teaching During a Pandemic: Mrs. Jessica Long

Jessica Long in her classroom

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, much has changed across the globe. But one thing has remained the same: teaching and learning need to continue for our students. 
Since March of 2020, Mariemont City Schools has faced a daunting challenge: how do we keep all students, staff and the community safe and healthy while also providing the educational continuity needed to advance our learners? It is certainly not an easy task but the Mariemont City Schools teachers have been up for the challenge. 
In the upcoming October issue of The Experience: The official newsmagazine of Mariemont City Schools, the district will feature seven teachers from all four school buildings. They will describe “teaching through a pandemic” in their own words and share what has changed about teaching this year, what is different in their own classrooms and what they have learned since March.
Below, read the experience of high school science teacher Mrs. Jessica Long.
Jessica Long
I teach ninth grade Biology for in-person learners and Online Warriors.  
Q: How has teaching changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: It has to be extremely organized (not that it always wasn’t), but to the student. When they see your assignment for the day, they need to know exactly what is expected of them. There is less movement… so it is more interactive on the devices. You are trying to get inside the heads of the at home students. How can you teach them without stressing them out? What is an appropriate amount of work? How can I see that they learned quickly and effectively? There is almost no paper. You are real time on a number of online platforms. You can see student work as it pops up. This was true before the pandemic, but now it is very true. We are doing cool online labs. They are different, but also engaging and challenging. 
Q: How is teaching different for you specifically during the pandemic?
A: My classroom was very collaborative before the pandemic. I liked the low-level energy and noise. I liked the feel of the busy, energetic classroom. It is much quieter now. I am adjusting. I asked students in my classroom and they say that it is all ok. They miss the collaboration but say teachers are being more flexible and understanding. Flexible may be the key word for all of this. 
Q: What is one thing you have learned from teaching during a pandemic?
A: We teach such kind, understanding students. The teachers are wonderful and everyone will help you out. Everyone cares. Everyone wants to do a great job. I love knowing that my science department is there for me. I love the collaboration. Priorities shift. I teach honors, but my idea of their time outside of the classroom is changing. I want the majority of learning to take place in the classroom (or in that time slot at home) so that evenings can be spent with family, resting and enjoying life. I want to spend lots of time with my own daughters. They are sitting more than normal and on a screen more than normal, so I want them to spend time at home moving and hanging out with friends and family. I also feel that it is more important than ever to be cheerful and optimistic in front of the students. There are so many serious rules, so they need to see that you are ok and happy. I also let them know that I am frustrated as well, so that they feel normal, but that we can do this anyway. If we as adults feel overwhelmed sometimes, then the students do as well. 

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