‘It’s still mentally exhausting, it’s just different’: East Valley School District teacher details what hybrid teaching is like

NEWMAN LAKE, Wash. — Teachers are working hard to make sure kids are getting the education they need.

While a majority of school districts are doing either in-person learning or distance learning, the East Valley School District is doing both.

The district is one month in with hybrid learning with half the students learning from home then the other half in school.

Fourth grade teacher Dani Wicks is adjusting to the hybrid learning model. Every morning, Wicks Zoom calls her kids learning from home so they can be together as a class for the start of the day. Wicks does a mini-lesson with the virtual learning kids while the in-person kids are doing their own assignments.

It’s been difficult trying to balance the two, making sure the face-to-face students are learning what they should, as well as the kids at home.

“This is probably, I can say, the hardest year I’ve had in teaching just because it’s completely unknown,” Wicks told 4 News Now.

In the past, she’s asked others for help; now she can’t. They’re all learning new things together for the first time.

“It’s a ton of work and a big challenge but something we’re faced with and there’s challenges everywhere, so we try to just hit it head on,” she said.

Wicks has to figure out what lessons she’s teaching students that are attending school in-person, and then make videos and put together assignments for students to learn at home.

She says it takes hours to make video and then post them, as well as putting together assignments. Then, she also has to be prepared to teach at school.

“It’s not necessarily more work than usual, it’s still mentally exhausting, it’s just different,” she said.

There’s also the fact that we’re in a global pandemic. As we’ve seen before, things can move pretty quickly. Add that with the upcoming flu and cold season, they have to be ready for anything.

READ: Drive-thru vaccination clinics continue as flu season approaches, students start in-person learning

“Really, we’re preparing for five days of instruction at home to keep them learning, to keep growing, to keep them engaged and then also your instruction at school, so it’s a lot,” she said.

Even though it feels like a lot to Wicks, all the planning and problem solving, she’s still grateful to give students the education they need.

She was afraid that back in March when schools shut down, things would be different from there on.

“I realized the true magic with us is in the classroom and it’s hit us all overwhelmingly,” she said. “But, the real magic is in the classroom when the kids are here. That’s the best part is seeing the kids’ eyes.”

Communication is very important between the teacher, administrators and parents, and Wicks feels they’re doing a good job on that.

“It’s an unprecedented time. Its like nothing we’ve ever seen before. I’ve been through a lot in my 22 years, this has been incredibly different,” she said. “But, with the support, the team and strong communication between administration, teachers and parents, I think we’re being successful.”

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