New teachers on the block

The pandemic has made it even harder for new teachers at Cannon Falls to connect with students.

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SJ Millerbernd and Karin Crego-Faul are both new teachers at Cannon Falls this year.

This school year, students and staff alike have gone through a variety of changes concerning the way school has been run. The high school has bounced around between various teaching methods from a hybrid learning style to a completely full-time distance learning method, eventually a full-time, in-person learning method, and then back to full-distance again. These rapid changes in the style of learning and teaching have forced both students and staff to adjust numerous times. Despite these many adjustments, students and staff have remained open to change and positive throughout the whole year. This year has been especially challenging for the school’s new teachers, who were thrown into the mix in recent history’s most chaotic school year.

For teachers, one of the biggest challenges throughout the year was the lack of communication between students and staff. Teachers have struggled to remain in communication with students. This makes it fairly difficult to teach, especially during a school year when communication between students and teachers is crucial to creating a successful learning environment. SJ Millerbernd, a new math teacher at Cannon Falls High School, emphasizes the importance of communication to the success of her class. “The inability to just talk to the people around you and having students sit in groups makes it more difficult, but not impossible for my teaching style,” she stated. In her classes, students are expected to discuss with one another to figure out math problems. With the rapidly changing learning environments, students and staff had to work with, this feat has proven rather challenging. 

In my courses, there are a number of systems in place for participation and engagement, but unfortunately the majority of them just don’t work for this year.”

— Karin Crego-Faul

On top of the struggles for communication, teachers also had to figure out ways to create a productive environment for all students. With students alternating between staying at home and being in-person, teachers have had to figure out ways to make sure students remain active and engaged throughout the class period. This is incredibly important since classes have been increased to ninety-five-minute classes this year. Karin Crego-Faul, a new Spanish teacher at Cannon Falls High School, expressed the importance of creating a productive learning environment for students. “In my courses, there are a number of systems in place for participation and engagement, but unfortunately the majority of them just don’t work for this year,” she said. Teachers have had to get creative with ideas to keep students productive.

In a year filled with many firsts, there have been a variety of changes and adjustments students and staff alike have had to make. New teachers especially have had to learn to adjust and adapt on the spot. Despite the many challenges this year has brought, though, teachers and students have taken everything in stride and have been quick to adjust whenever needed. The students and staff’s flexibility is what has helped this chaotic year run somewhat smoothly.