NIXA, Mo. – Imagine switching back to doing things the traditional way after finally getting the hang of a new skill. Well, this is happening to some teachers in Nixa this school year.
Robin Mason is a 6th-grade science teacher at Inman Intermediate. It’s her tenth year teaching in Nixa, but she spent the 2020 curriculum online.
“It was certainly different,” Mason said. “There were obstacles that you wouldn’t expect to come across. Nixa does a phenomenal job getting ready teachers ready, giving them the curriculum, and instructing the students. But sitting down and reaching the students through a computer, it certainly was a challenge. It took us a while to get going, but when we did, it just worked fantastically, the communication, the support from the parents. If we would do a science activity, I needed parents to help. I wasn’t there to do it with them to be hands-on. I had to rely on the parents, the grandparents, the older siblings.”
2020 was Amanda Carlson’s first year with Nixa Public Schools, and she did the same thing.
“I’ve never heard ‘you’re glitching’ so much in my entire life,” Carlson said. “Technology was one thing we dealt with a lot. Like ‘we’re not connected to Wi-Fi,’ or ‘the Wi-Fi is down for today,’ or even ‘my Chromebook is not charged,’ or ‘it died in the middle of a meeting.’ Definitely, you have to know how to communicate very well. That’s what virtual teaching is all about. Lots of communication.”
Mason and Carlson eventually got used to virtual instruction. But, now they’re back in the classroom.
“It was more difficult than I anticipated,” Mason said. “Simple things like transitions. ‘We have to be in lunch in two minutes!’ I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve got to go.’ Time management, things like that which I wasn’t used to having to do. Your mindset was so different when it was virtual. Virtual, you’re like, ‘okay, I have to make sure they understand since I’m not sitting next to them knowing they’re getting this and I can move on.’ That was an issue. Whereas here I am right there, but now I have to adjust to getting the classroom ready at the beginning of the year, meet the teacher. We didn’t do in-person things like that next year. That mindset, I had to get back into it this year.”
Carlson had similar issues with time management.
“I was late on the first day to everything because I was like, ‘Oh, we need a couple of minutes,” Carlson said. “But having kids in my classroom and getting used to that, and having to go over procedures and expectations and moving that from ‘you’re not at your home anymore, you’re here in a classroom.’ Just having to make that transition to it.”
To get adjusted, Mason taught a summer school class.
“That did help me out a lot,” Mason said. “The first day of summer school, I was just kind of like frazzled. I’m like, ‘Okay, I’ve got to get them quiet.’ I was a little rusty on certain things.”
What helped Carlson, she says, were co-workers.
“Having a staff that is so supportive,” Carlson said. “I could not do it without the people that I work with.”
Even though the transition was tough, Mason says she’s happy to be back in person.
“Even though I saw [my students] on the TV screen every day through Zoom, I missed just being in-person,” Mason said. “You get to see them differently through Zoom, whereas here, it’s just a different environment. I did miss them. We were kind of in our little world last year. So it has been nice to have the kids there and see them every day.”
Since teaching online in 2020, Carlson says she has used more technology in the classroom this year.
“I feel like I am a professional at anything technology now,” Carlson said. “Having that opportunity to pull those different things in the room is awesome. My kids are definitely enjoying that.”