First-year teachers dealing with first-time circumstances


Tracy Tran

Coppell High School assistant debate coach SunHee Simon teaches sophomore Rawan Abdulsattar and remote learning students on Oct. 9 in B210. This year, due to the coronavirus, new teachers are struggling with teaching both in-person and online students. Photo by Tracy Tran.

Joanne Kim, Staff Writer

For Sunhee Simon, a first-year debate teacher at Coppell High School, her first day at school began not with the sound of students in her classroom, but in the silence of her own home. 

“First-year teaching is hyped up a lot because you get to have your own classroom and you get to meet your first students.” Simon said. “Obviously, when you go into teaching, you want to be able to see your students’ faces and build a relationship with them. But this year, none of that [is] possible.”

As of this year, the majority of students in Coppell ISD are attending school virtually. All teachers have adapted to virtual learning over the last nine weeks. 

“I started training to become a teacher about a year or two ago, and it feels like everything I did to prepare myself to teach has just gone out the window,” Coppell Middle School East coach Jarred Simmons said.“I did classroom observation hours and took note on how teachers instructed the class, but there’s nothing that explained how to become a virtual teacher. 

First-year teachers such as Simmons, who struggle with teaching virtually, have the option to reach out to instructional coaches. These coaches act as a support system for teachers and help guide instructional methods.

“There’s already a learning curve to teaching in general, but even more so this year,” CHS instructional coach Derryl Lee said. “I’ve had first-year teachers come to me because they didn’t know how to separate their time or make lessons engaging when they’re held over Zoom calls. For them, their teaching experience hasn’t been what they were expecting when they signed up for the job.”

Although new policies, such as keeping cameras on during Zoom calls, have been implemented to create a more interactive learning experience, Simon and Simmons feel as if they have lost an important part of the classroom experience.

“It can get frustrating at times,” Simmons said “I don’t know when we’ll reopen completely, and I don’t know when I might be able to see all of my students’ faces in person. As someone who’s new to teaching, it’s hard to know what to do and how to keep things organized, especially when I don’t feel the connection with my virtual students like I hoped I would.”

But even under the current circumstances, new teachers are doing their best to keep a positive outlook. The second nine week grading period began on Oct. 13, and remote learners from the first nine weeks had the option to return to campus for the first time.

 “My perspective is that even if this might not quite be what I was expecting, I should still be doing my best to make the most of it,” Simon said. “Everything has gone as well as it can considering the circumstances, and we, as a district, adapted really well and are doing our best to keep everyone safe.”

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