WINFIELD — Going into the school year, Winfield-Mt Union second-grade teacher Hali Schick knew the risk she was taking.
“It’s a little scary, but I just think about the kids … we knew what could happen, and we prepared ourselves,” the first-year teacher said.
And two months into the school year, the potential to get sick suddenly became a reality. Schick was asked to go home after being informed she had been exposed to the coronavirus by a colleague.
“It was a little overwhelming – planning things for the substitute and not knowing if they would have the materials needed,” she said.
Because Schick wasn’t exhibiting symptoms and is considered an essential personnel, she was able to return to the classroom within the week.
As a first-year teacher, Schick said she was excited to be leading her own classroom and implementing hands-on activities and curriculum she had seen during her time in school, many of which have had to either be adapted or put aside until health and safety guidelines relax.
“I’ve had to rethink a lot of the activities that I loved,” she said.
Especially working with younger students, Schick said trying to keep an appropriate distance while being the most effective educator she can be has been a delicate balance she still is trying to figure out.
“I can’t do my very best job if I’m away from them,” she said.
In addition to a shift on the academic side of her job, Schick added there has been a continued emphasis on social-emotional learning as well as familiarizing students with technology.
“We have social-emotional learning curriculum. We do something every morning where we talk about our feelings and socially distance greet each other. I think that’s really important this year,” she said.
“I also try to do something on the iPads every week, so if we do have to go to hybrid or online, they’re not completely clueless,” Schick added.
But even with the disruption and a very untypical first year experience, Schick said she feels supported and encouraged by her fellow teachers.
“We’re all going through the same thing. It’s been a challenge but everyone understands we’re doing the best that we can,” she said.
– Ashley Duong
“I’ve had to rethink a lot of the activities that I loved.”
Hali Schick, second-grade teacher