Despite Challenges, Teachers Embrace Return To Classroom

by Israel Noriega

Students aren’t the only ones glad to be back in the classroom this first semester. Most educators are elated to have some sense of normalcy in their professional lives since the beginning of the school year on Aug.2, although they feel that this year’s return to Pueblo has been far from being totally “back to normal”.

Ms. Celisa Ramirez, one of Pueblo’s AVID teachers, said, “The number of students I had in the beginning [was challenging]! Students moving in and out of my classroom was crazy until their schedules were finalized. Then, technology was not working.” She paused and added, “However, things got better, but, yeah, it was a very difficult beginning.”

Another teacher, Ms. Sarah Wilson, Pueblo’s radio teacher, said, “In the beginning of the school year, students weren’t used to sitting so long. Many of them were returning to the classroom for the first time in nearly a year and a half. Getting students to stay off their phones was also challenging.”

Math teacher Mr. Gregory Obregon said, “The beginning of the school year was definitely difficult. I really had to be a lot more patient with students than usual. I had to reteach my students a lot of normal things, like how to behave properly in a classroom. Also, our students’ social skills suffered during online instruction, and that was difficult to deal with until they became more comfortable around a lot of people.”

Even as the semester progressed, many teachers’ days were not done after school hours. Teachers have had to adjust to staying extra hours helping students online who are quarantined. Some teachers reported that they were and currently are working as many as two or three hours beyond the school day to ensure students are receiving the work they need to earn good grades in their classes.

Pueblo’s other AVID teacher, Ms. Lyndsey Bojorquez, said,” I spend a lot of time during my planning periods and after school reading and responding to [quarantined] students’ emails in order to help them keep up-to-date with classroom work.”

Ms. Andrea Goodrich, a new social studies teacher at Pueblo, said that she also was challenged by some of the awkwardness of the school year’s beginning.

She said, “It’s been a hard transition for both the students and teachers because there have been a lot of new procedures to follow. It took a while for everybody to know the rules and teachers’ expectations.”

Despite all the challenges every teacher has been facing throughout this first semester, administrators have been doing their best, too, and working hard to make sure every teacher gets the help and the support they need.

Assistant Principal Kathryn Gunnels said, “We have been doing a lot of S.E.L. [Socially Emotional Learning] for the purpose of helping teachers to help their students to make the transition from online to in-person learning because this transition was enormous—whether or not those changes are obvious or not.”

Ms. Karla Martinez, who joined the Pueblo High School administrative team this school year, said, I speak with a lot of teachers—answering their questions and discussing their concerns. I want everybody to know that I’m here for them.”

Despite all the challenges to continue to overcome this first semester, teachers are glad to be back and happy to see their students and meet them in person. Teachers have missed their students and are grateful to be back.

Mr. Abel Escalante, a science teacher at Pueblo, said, “I missed to getting to know my students because last year all I saw were black screens.”

English teacher Ms. Lucero Ramirez said,” No matter what challenges I faced in the beginning of the school year, it’s still great to be back! Here we are, near the end of the first semester now. I really missed seeing kids’ faces and laughing with them the most.”

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