By Mallorie Rast
Classrooms that have stood empty since March finally have their students and educators back. I caught up with an educator in order to find out how the first week back to school went.
With the outbreak of COVID-19, classrooms were emptied, and thousands of students across the province finished up their school year from home. High School graduates celebrated their graduation with socially distanced parades and with number-sensitive groups. All through the spring and summer months, one thought was paramount on teachers’, students’ and parents’ minds, what will the 2020-2021 season be like? The province officially announced in early June that schools would be open for students to be physically present, and throughout the later summer months, back to school plans unfolded.
For Kindersley-born Kent Hanna, this fall held more adventures than just the coronavirus, as this is his first teaching position following his graduation with a Bachelor of Education this spring. Hanna was this year’s recipient of Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor Social Studies Education Student Award, and is now teaching Social Studies, Health and English to grades 8 and 9 in the Maple Creek composite school.
Overall, Hanna says that the first week has gone off surprisingly well, given all factors. He said that students were ready for the routine of learning and that this week was focused on fostering student eagerness while helping students adjust to the classroom environment again. “We are using a holistic approach to our education, not only are we presenting the curriculum to help our students grow and learn, but are also coming alongside them to aid them in their transition back to the school desk.”
Hanna said the extra measures, such as sanitizing, staggered class leave time and other precautions taken due to COVID, appeared daunting at first, but after the routine of several days, the regulations became easier to remember and implement. “Remembering that these are in place for the safety of all was key to smooth execution.” Hanna also said that despite misgivings over student compliance in mask and sanitary equipment use, the school staff in Maple Creek were cheered by the teamwork of all involved.
The greatest light from this week is that Hanna’s passion to invest in his students and inspire them to appreciate learning has not been hampered by masks, class sizes or hand sanitizer. “I was able to focus on making my lessons fun and engaging. My goal is to show students that learning is worth doing and to guide them on how to teach themselves. I strongly believe that a student can reach higher and accomplish more once they learn how to discover and comprehend a topic for themselves.”
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