Teacher finds quarantine as an opportunity to find new ways to teach

Amya Terry, Staff Writer

When informed that school was cancelled due to Covid-19, most students were either excited or depressed; there’s no in between. School gave students a place to socialize and stay productive. Now everyone is self reliant to stay organized and responsible with getting work done. But, how do teachers feel about this major change?

Spanish teacher Kaitlyn Maher said she was shocked when she first heard the news.

“I wasn’t expecting [school closure] to happen so quick,” Maher said. After the news sank in, there was a slight feeling of panic going through her as she tried to figure out how to teach a foreign language online. An effective way to learn a new language is having visual and physical teaching, she said, and with that no longer being an option it makes things much more difficult. 

Maher tries to assign enough work to help her students grow in learning Spanish, which can be difficult.

“I don’t want to overload [my students] because I know how hard that can be,” she said. 

Maher worries about her students and how they’re doing the assignments, though she mentioned she hasn’t had much of an issue with late work; she still wants her students to do their work honestly without getting answers from friends or translators. 

School has been out since March 16, and Maher said she has tried staying positive, spending time with her dog, trying new recipes, working out, and taking her dog on walks.

“I am a very social person, so this quarantine has been very challenging, but the exercise helps me a lot,”  she said.

Maher has looked for ways to teach that help her students the most that can help even when school opens.

“I think as teachers this is a great time to take this as an opportunity to find new ways to teach curriculum and find new tools to help our students succeed,” Maher said.

Something she especially enjoys is interacting with her students and colleagues throughout the day.

“I miss talking to my colleagues between classes, but I miss interactions with my students even more [..] not everyday in the classroom is easy, but it is always rewarding,” she said.

Maher has tried her best to reach out to students to see how effective her teaching online is.

“I appreciate getting feedback from my students, positive and negative, and I make it a point to ask for it frequently,” she said.

Maher also said she gets many responses from her students that say they miss her in class and that they appreciate how much she cares. 

Like most teachers, Maher hopes school opens up again.

“The optimistic side of me says that I see us going back to school for the last few weeks so that we can all have a sense of closure from this experience,” she said. “However, the realistic side of me doesn’t see that happening. I think medical professionals are still advising that we practice social distancing. I think we should do just that.”

Maher wants her students to stay productive and safe during this time, and she said she also wants them to know that she misses them and understands how hard this is.

“I want my students to know how much I miss interacting with them everyday. I want them to take this time to grow as people. Don’t just sleep all day. I look forward to seeing [them] soon. Be patient with your teachers, stay healthy, practice social distancing and wash your hands.”

The Great Falls Public Schools Board of Trustees announced May 1 that schools will remain closed through June 5.