A Shift in Strategy

Teachers Adjust to New Classroom Challenges


Benjamin Green, Reporting Journalist

If the 2020 school year was difficult for the students to adjust to, then it was even harder for the teachers. Put yourself in a teacher’s shoes and imagine all of the additional steps students had to take this year because of COVID. Even though they have done so seamlessly, teachers have had to make the biggest jump of adjustment to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic.

Teachers had to change their lesson plans, group work, and teaching style to adjust to the COVID adaptations. They also have to juggle between half of their students online and half in school with them. 

Mrs. Longo, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, has led Salesianum in finding new ways in engaging students through collaboration or by making lessons more interactive. Yet because of the pandemic, this has had to change. “Unfortunately, the virus makes it more difficult, if not impossible, to do some of those things. Most teachers before this year set up their rooms to reflect the pair groupings, group work, or active discussion, and now desks need to be 3-6 feet apart and have to be facing forward,” says Mrs. Longo. 

The face masks also prevent the teachers from seeing students’ faces, which diminishes the classroom feel and the brotherhood that Sallies is known for. 

“First and foremost, there is a palpable sense of unease and anxiety amongst many people, so it is difficult to place a focus on math, or English, or social studies,” says Chairman of the Mathematics Department Mr. Kegelman. “Also, teachers count on their ability to generate a rapport and chemistry in their classrooms. This is decidedly more difficult when you only see half of your class at a time. Students who are in the room are masked and distanced, so much of their natural camaraderie is diminished.”

Mr. Menicucci, a religious studies teacher, echoes a similar sentiment about hybrid learning, “This year has brought many challenges. We’ve lost a lot of human connection by being masked, and that makes it more difficult to build student-teacher relationships. Having half the students at home each day is tough on them and also on the teachers, who are doing their best to make sure that everyone is engaged and participating.”

Overall, being a teacher this year has been challenging and has changed from previous school years. Even though there were some tough challenges, Salesianum teachers have done a great job in adjusting to the new hybrid schedule, creating a new school system that effectively works during the coronavirus pandemic.