Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Machado
This ongoing school year has been a unique experience for everyone. Distance learning has drastically changed the way that school is being conducted, and it has especially changed the day-to-day life of the teachers on campus. This has proven true for middle school teacher, Mrs. Machado. She teaches middle school Science, and she is also the advisor for the cheer team. Standard teaching was not the only thing affected by distance learning; the sports teams on campus were also influenced by this, and they have had to conduct themselves in a much different way. Machado’s case is interesting because she has had to handle the changes for both of these situations.
This year is Machado’s ninth year of teaching, and unsurprisingly it has been the craziest year for her yet. When asked about the change from in-person school to distance learning she said “The transition to distance learning was terrifying at first, but now I feel like I have figured out what works best for me and my students.” Since the structure of this school year is so different, new teaching plans had to be created or old ones had to be adjusted to the online format. So far, for her, the best part of distance learning has been being able to teach safely amidst the pandemic and still being able to do what she loves without the fear of anyone getting sick. However, the worst part has been having to completely rework how she teaches lessons and losing the aspect of student-led discussions in class. Furthermore, a new challenge that arose with distance learning was trying to figure out how to incorporate hands-on labs and activities for her students to work on to build their knowledge of the subject.
Some teachers prefer the new format of teaching, but Machado stated that she “100% prefers in-person learning. In-person learning allows for deeper connections with your students.” Teaching solely through a screen has taken away the personal aspect of teaching, and turned it into a matter of just learning the material. Although there have been some funny moments in her online classes; Machado recounted one of those moments when she would fully give instructions while muted the whole time. Luckily a student would eventually speak up and inform her that she had been muted. This new style has not only been different for her, but also for her students. She said that “I really think this [distance learning] depends on the type of learner the student is. There are students who can thrive on this type of platform, while others will struggle.” She also went on to discuss how her students are also struggling with having lost the social aspect of school that helps them develop social skills.
Finally, there have been many changes in the way that the cheer program has been run due to distance learning. Machado talked about how a cheer team relies on the connections and bonds that are made, as it is required for them to be able to fully function and work together. Not being able to plan team bonding activities has been very upsetting for her and her squad, since they are a great way to form those personal connections. Also because of the nature of distance learning, it has been a struggle to keep the athletes motivated. Furthermore, getting the athletes to complete their workouts is not the easiest thing to do since there is still much uncertainty about the possibility of a season.
Overall, Machado feels as though “this year has been a difficult one for both students and teachers alike, so it is very important that they all remember this one school year does not define them and they will all be able to get through it if they work together.”