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Pikes Peak area teacher reflects on a semester during the pandemic

Published: Dec. 31, 2020 at 2:55 PM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - During a year when so much has changed, our educators have had to battle with a new way of teaching students. The pandemic has thrown e-learning, hybrid learning, and everything in between at them, but teachers have made it all work for their students.

Aly Johnson is a marketing teacher at Air Academy High School in Academy District 20. She spoke to 11 News at the beginning of the fall semester about what she was looking forward to and how she would adapt. As a marketing teacher, her job entitles a lot more than just handouts and papers. So, this semester she had to get creative.

Johnson was able to think up ways to help her kids adjust to hybrid learning when half of them were in person and the other half were at home. She was able to think up assignments that would require the in-person students to work alongside the at-home students. She also made sure to get the kids up and engaged with outdoor assignments and some fun in between.

“If I can give them an assignment where they can get up and get some fresh air and get some sunshine that is going to do worlds better than you know 90 minutes of straight content,” said Johnson.

As the semester wrapped up we checked back in with Johnson to see how the semester went.

“I think that it’s gone okay. It’s gone better than I thought for sure.”

She tells us at the beginning of the year she and some fellow educators were worried about the technology and transitions they would have to make during the pandemic in the event of quarantines and other roadblocks.

“We’re just kind of adaptable to what needs to happen versus back in March and April. So, it definitely changes from day to day.”

As she adapted to the new way of teaching, she made sure to keep the positivity flowing in the classroom, and while they started to get the hang of things, not every day was easy.

“Some days are a lot harder. Some days all my students have, they’re not feeling it right? They all have their cameras off. This has been going on way longer than any of us even though it would and I can’t blame them for not bringing the energy to class every single day.”

Johnson also tells us it’s been a challenge with being able to connect one-on-one with her students. She says lately she’s been able to connect with them when class isn’t in session, but it’s not always easy to recognize if they’re doing okay over web-cam.

“We’re not used to seeing them in this light and I think it’s hard to tie a bow on everything and say ‘well this will be over soon. normal life will return,’ when we’ve been stuck in this season for so long.”

She’s hoping her students were able to recharge over winter break. Her worry though isn’t only with students, she also worries about the weight of this semester on her fellow educators.

“I worry the weight of it all, the emotional impact of this year will kind of catch up with us a little bit to be quite frank with you.”

At the end of the day for Mrs. J, as her students call her, being kind, resilient, and showing up no matter what is what she is counting on to get through this unpredictable year.

“We want nothing more than for our students to have the best learning environment that we think they can have. We’re not going to get it perfect every time, especially with the changes happening overnight. We are doing the absolute best we can.”

Johnson will be back in the classroom on January 4th to dive into the spring semester.

To all of the educators working extraordinary hard during this season, thank you.

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