Katherine B. Madden-Bruketta

Peabody High School
Trenton, Tennessee
Katherine B. Madden-Bruketta, English I/English Department Chair

The Glass is Half Full

On March 16, 2020, my life as a teacher changed forever. I was preparing to give the ACT to my students the next day; I was NOT prepared to hear the principal say that we were closing school until after spring break.

Eight months later, we are back in school; however, school as I know it now is completely different. I have found that, in November, there are successes. I have learned that there are students who will go to great lengths for knowledge, that technology is something that I need to embrace, and that the hybrid system of learning can work.

Our school originally opened in August with a full in-person start; however, we quickly adjusted and went on a hybrid schedule. On this schedule, students with the last names of A-I are in-person Monday/Wednesday and virtual Tuesday/Thursday. Students with last names J-Z are virtual Monday/Wednesday and in-person Tuesday/Thursday. All students are virtual on Friday.  I was very hesitant about the effectiveness of learning with students in-person only two days a week. So, in order to provide more time for students to engage with me and the material of English I, I started offering virtual tutoring sessions a few days per week in the evenings.

We have been in the hybrid system for almost two months, and my tutoring slots always stay full. I have a great group of students who sign up for the individual 30-minute sessions. The positive thing is that I have students who are making gains and pushing themselves. Additionally, I have created some lasting relationships that I would have never had otherwise. They see that I care, and they rise to the challenge – even in a pandemic.

Additionally, I have been blessed with a school system that strives to provide the latest technology. We are a small district in a rural area, but I have been amazed at how cutting-edge our technology is. We went one-to-one about six years ago; however, I did not utilize the Google classroom prior to the pandemic. Covid-19 has forced me to step out of my comfort zone of paper/pencil and embrace technology. I have found that teaching with technology is actually, in some ways, easier. I have the Google Suite to grade my assignments, Google Meets for virtual sessions with my children, and an awesome integrated television system that helps me stream my lessons online and in-class simultaneously. Without my technology department, I do not think I could be as effective as I think I have learned to be during this pandemic.

All in all, I do not believe that any teacher in the United States would prefer the situation that we have. The challenges have been great; however, as teachers, we are not ones who back down from a challenge. We are the ones who are first to meet it because we know that we have a very precious charge to keep: We are the ones who hold the future in our hands. It is up to us to continue the good fight and continue to push, challenge, and love our students. In the end, we will persevere because we are problem solvers.