Teachers and students were creative during the COVID-19 pandemic, developing new methods of learning and completing work such as using video conferences. Now, with restrictions easing, teachers are looking forward to returning full-time to the classroom.
American Federation of Teachers West Virginia President Fred Albert appeared on the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss what teaching during the pandemic was like, what was learned, education in West Virginia and attracting more people to the profession.
Teaching during the pandemic
Albert said he can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Things are starting to look promising for teachers and students as restrictions are being lifted. The improving outlook is due to a rising vaccination rate and caution in schools, districts should return to a full in-person schedule beginning next year.
Thanks to computers and webcams, students were able to stay connected to their classmates and educators during the pandemic.
While students were still able to learn, Albert said some teachers struggled adapting to the technology. In some areas, students struggled to obtain the technology needed due to socioeconomic status. However, many schools were able to provide students with the technology they needed to learn from a remote location.
Albert introduced Reconnecting McDowell, a comprehensive, long-term effort to improve education in McDowell County, West Virginia. The plan includes providing resources for teachers and students to advance education.
The plan is funded by a partnership between public and private institutions. Businesses, local governments, foundations and labor groups have all committed to improving life for the people of McDowell County, a once thriving region in the coal industry.
Attracting people to the teaching profession
Teaching is not a glamorous profession and often pays under what many feel is deserved. Teachers work long hours, dedicate their own time and resources to their students and are compensated a less than desirable wage.
Albert said the best way to attract more people into the profession is to improve the compensation. This goes beyond wages and includes benefits, conditions and more. The rising cost of a college education has made it difficult for many to commit to the profession.