The Era of COVID, from the Eyes of a Teacher

Listen to Ryan’s interview with Mr. Padmanabha as they discuss COVID through the eyes of a teacher. Both text and audio versions are available.

In this article, the main questions and most important responses have been transcribed, however if you would like to hear the complete unedited interview, an audio version is available below.

Recently I held an interview with the well known Global I teacher, Mr. Padmanabha. The questions focused on his perspective on the times we’re living in, both from him as a teacher, and him as an individual. This interview was an important conversation to have because it makes public a teacher’s opinions on the problems that plague students’ minds today. Topics such as COVID safety, mental health, grades, the school itself, and methods to ease stress are all covered.

What are your thoughts on the possibility of combining the blue and gold groups? 

“I’m split on how I see this going. I’m split because I would love to get back to some sort of normalcy and have the groups see each other and be together, because that’s really awesome, but you know, safety is definitely on my mind. Although I feel like we can do it safely, the only thing that also concerns me is that we’re all pretty much used to such a routine already, that to switch out now where we’re so close to the end, just seems like it could possibly be really disruptive to people. For students too, maybe being around so many people might cause more anxiety, but then again maybe being all by yourself might cause anxiety, so I’m honestly torn. I would really pretty much do anything that’s in the best interest of students. If they feel like they want to be together, let’s do it. If they’re reluctant, and they feel nervous and uncomfortable, then let’s not do it. But, as an adult, I’ve been through some tough times, where I realize I know when the end is gonna happen, I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if I was a younger person, you might not have those experiences yet, this might seem so bad right now, but in my mind I know we’re going to get through it, it’s going to be okay soon, but I can see how really difficult this would be for a younger person.”

Follow up: The well-being of students

“Student well-being has been at the forefront of my mind this entire year. I know I normally say in any given year that academics are definitely important for any student at Sweet Home, but I think what’s also equally as important for me, is their character. And I think character building is huge, and all I really care about is students feeling good, and being well, honestly. I would rather be there for students for their well-being and make sure they’re good mentally, and feeling stable, as opposed to making sure they get 100’s on assignments. The well-being part is way more important to me right now.”

This year, the number of students failing at least one class is significantly higher than previous years. Why do you think this is?

“I would imagine that the increased number in failing grades has something to do with the disconnect from a normal academic schedule and routine. I feel that the schedule we have could feel pretty disruptive, and not have a good flow, and I could see how really being out of a good rhythm to get work done and do things, I feel like students are resilient enough to learn in this new style, but maybe it just came on too quickly.

Follow up: The school’s handling of this situation

“So, I definitely think the school is doing the best it can, in any situation I always feel like there’s room for improvement, but I feel like given the parameters that we’re working with, this seems like the best way to go. I think that we have really good people looking out for us, and I don’t think anybody wants to put anybody in harm’s way. I do think this might make us open our eyes to how we do school. What are we studying? Why are we doing this? Is this making us ready for our futures? So I’m wondering with this disruption, is this a way for us to maybe break from how we learn things and do traditional schools? Maybe we should try to figure out a way that has a really high impact for kids. Here’s an example. Say you’d like to be a yoga teacher. Would you like to sit down at a desk and learn about all the yoga poses, all the breathing techniques, and all the ways a person moves? Or do you want to actually do yoga? So, in school, if you’re learning different subjects, would you rather sit and listen and practice part of it, or do you want to actually do the real thing. It almost makes more sense to focus and gear ourselves to do the thing we want to do. It’s important to have a well rounded exposure to different subjects, I get that part for sure. But the idea that we all learn the same way, we all are gonna do the same thing, I don’t know. Colleges are very important, but maybe there’s just a different way to do it.”

What do you think school will look like at the start of next year?

“I think next year there’s going to probably be new methods of how we do things, but I think it will look a lot more familiar to previous years, and that these last two years are more standouts, and I don’t think that we’re gonna go back to that. I don’t think so, and I also really hope not.”

What are some things people can do to help alleviate some of the stress of these times?

“My first go to, is that there’s a lot of things- and this is for any situation- I actually recommend this even when times are good, so we especially need to do it now. Meditate. I think meditation is a life skill that everyone should learn, and it has an immeasurable amount of benefits. We have so many things going on in our minds, that don’t necessarily need to be processed, and I think that by meditating, it gives your mind a chance to reset, and I think resetting, and taking a fresh look at your day or whatever it may be, is the way to go.”

This interview highlighted one thing. In these tough times, we need to remember something. There are people looking out for us, who care about us, and who will help us. I know it can often feel overwhelming, but we’re going to get through this. We’re so close.

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