Though I’m sure we can all agree that the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted the way we interact with our friends, work, and daily lives, everyone’s personal story brings its own unique differences. One group of people I decided to interview about their experience during this period of time is the Penn Fellows, three faculty members who balance both the responsibilities of being grad students and teachers at the same time. Mr. Mezoff and Mr. Farmer both teach English at HB, while Mx. Fuller teaches math. Here are the questions and responses from the interview (special thanks to the Penn Fellows for participating!):
1. What have you learned about teaching during the last year or two?
Mx. K: Everything lol. This is my first teaching job, and I’m already so different in the classroom than I was in August. A couple of good lessons I’ve learned include: be willing to go with the flow, don’t become so dependent on the lesson plan that you forget the learning, leave time for getting to know the students as people, be willing and able to pivot on a dime, and get comfortable messing up in front of your students.
2. What have you learned about yourself during the last year or two?
Mx. K: I’ve learned that education is my passion. I finally get to experience what it’s like to have a job I love, and I’ll never go back. I’ve also learned that I’m more patient than I gave myself credit for before
3. If you could tell anything to your past self from last March, what would you say?
Mr. Farmer: Buckle up?
Mr. Mezoff: Buy face masks, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper now before it goes out of stock!
Mx. K: Don’t worry about having a plan; those will get thrown to the wayside anyway. Sit back and enjoy the journey. It all works out.
4. Do you have any advice for students who are struggling with motivation / time management during these strange times?
Mr. Farmer: You can only do one thing at a time, so try not to worry about everything at once.
Mr. Mezoff: Be open and honest with your teachers about how things are going for you. We’re here to help!
Mx. K: Become a master at prioritization. Put work in priority categories, and do work based on those categories. Don’t jump into the assignments you’re actually looking forward to; save those as a break from the ones you don’t want to do.
5. Do you have any advice for students who may also be interested in becoming teachers one day?
Mr. Farmer: Look for coaching, tutoring, or camp counseling gigs—take opportunities to work with different ages and groups of kids.
Mr. Mezoff: Try to savor the best parts of your student experience now. As a teacher, I often think about what made my favorite high-school classes so fantastic and consider how I can bring that same joy to my students!
Mx. K: Get to know yourself as a learner: what are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you learn best? Take advantage of HB’s opportunities, too. Join Aspire, tutor other students, be a camp counselor. The best way to see if you like something is to just do it.
6. To finish it off on a fun note, what are some hobbies you’ve picked up or shows/movies/books you’ve gotten into lately?
Mr. Farmer: Super normal stuff like talking to my dog.
Mr. Mezoff: I recently read Octavia Butler’s Kindred, which is a really remarkable novel. I’ve also been playing through the new expansion of Stardew Valley.
Mx. K: My partner and I have been renovating our house in our free time, and I’ve really enjoyed learning new skills with different power tools. I also got into acrylic painting, which has been an awesome way to relax and shut my brain off, while also giving me fodder for upcoming birthdays, etc..