Interview-an-Educator: The First Installment

By IYWP Interns April Bannister and Emily Flores

Welcome to the first installment of the IYWP’s Interview-an-Educator Project! The purpose of this project is to collect stories from K-12 educators in Iowa City and surrounding districts about teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. Educators are invaluable to the IYWP, and the goal is to amplify their voices and make sure their viewpoints are seen and heard.

To kick off the series, Special Projects interns April Bannister and Emily Flores conducted an email interview with a local educator in Iowa City. The educator requested that their name and school remain anonymous.

Q: Do you live in the district where you work?

A: Yes

Q: What is your current role in your school (e.g., teacher or administrator)? 

A: Teacher/Instructional Design Strategist (.5 FTE each position)

Q: How is your district / school responding to the pandemic?

A: The District has worked tirelessly with the teacher’s union, the School Board, and all stakeholders to try to make the most informed decisions possible.  It hasn’t been easy, I’m sure in a District our size, but I admire what Superintendent Degner said recently, “We may never know if we did too much, but we will certainly know if we did too little.”  

Q: How might your job change as a result of the pandemic (e.g., adapting coursework for online learning)?

A: Originally, when it was not decided whether we were going to have choices in how the students would return (F2F, hybrid, online), I experienced a great deal of anxiety and disconnect in envisioning my teaching position for the fall.  I knew that I would have SOME adapting coursework for online learning and would have to master an online learning management system I had never used before.  I knew I would have to distance from the students and be proactive with cleaning and self-care.  I gathered as many supplies for that as I could:  Air Filtration system, masks, disinfectant wipes, gloves, etc.  While that might have made me feel more prepared, it made me feel more and more uncomfortable.  I was constantly worried about what my classroom would look and feel like. 

Q: What are your thoughts about your school’s response? Is there a way the situation could’ve been managed better?

A: My school’s response has been in line with the District, so I am proud of the efforts to get things as effective as possible.  Everyone has worked hard to support each other and reach out to students.  It’s been a team effort from the beginning. 

Q: On a wider scale, what is your reaction to the ways in which Bruce Teague, Kim Reynolds, Donald Trump, or any other government official has responded to schools during the pandemic?

A: Angry.  Disappointed.  Embarrassed.  Disrespected.  This is one of the first times I felt dispensable by my government.  I know I’m privileged to say that, but it’s true.  I also can’t comprehend how things could be different now had Kim Reynolds rescinded her proclamation in July.  After all the hours and hard work, the Return To Learn Committee put in to provide three plans at the local level, and for her to completely but an end to that seemed unconscionable. 

Q: If you are teaching in person, how do you anticipate this could affect you or your family? Are you taking any special precautions as a result?

A: I am teaching 100% online because my husband has a medical condition.

Q: Beyond work, how has the pandemic affected your life? If relevant: Have you been involved in any community awareness or outreach efforts?

A: I’ve been in isolation since the very beginning.  It has been hard mentally.  I miss seeing my friends and colleagues.  Oddly enough, I don’t miss going to restaurants nor indoor venues. I have had some very hard moments where I’ve questioned if I can teach this way, and I’ve taught for over two decades.  I can honestly say if I could get a comparable salary and benefits in another career, I would.  That’s something I never thought I would say.  It makes me very sad to think of all the fantastic teachers who have quit or taken early retirement because our government leaders wouldn’t do what they needed to in order to ensure their safety.  

Q: Is there anything you want others to know about your school that they might not know?

A: If I did, it would identify me.  🙂

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