St. Johns County teacher describes simultaneous learning balancing act

St. Johns County teacher union agreements
St. Johns County teacher union agreements

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – St. Johns County teachers are saying the new workload amid the COVID-19 pandemic is causing stress and some are starting to look for other jobs.

This comes after the head of the local teachers union in the county brought their concerns to the school board.

The president of the St. Johns Education Association Michelle Dillon told the school board Tuesday morning that teaching students in-person along with virtual learners is just too much for one instructor to handle at the same time.

On Wednesday, News4Jax spoke to a teacher who is in that situation and he said it’s been challenging on him and his colleagues.

“The teacher has to go back and forth and work with the kids at home,” said Tim Davidson, a Pedro Menendez High School teacher. “So it’s — I used the analogy all week— it’s kind of like building the plane as you fly it. And so we’re learning as we go.”

Davidson teaches at the VyStar Business Academy at the St. Augustine high school.

During the course of a school day, about 150 students study in his class. He said about 70% are actually in the room and the rest are tuning in via web-cam.

Davidson said handling both learning formats simultaneously has been extremely challenging and time-consuming.

“You run into little snafus here and there like, you’re trying to connect with a kid, you’re trying to get a speaker working, you lose, you know, the learning management system occasionally," he said. "That can be a lot of juggling if it’s not working right the way that you want it and it can be a challenge and you can really lose some continuity in the classroom.”

The head of the local teachers union said that if something doesn’t change she’s worried teachers will become so stressed they will look for another job.

Davidson gave his opinion about a possible solution.

“Time, patience, the community and the parents at home who are struggling to get their kids involved and do things, understanding that we are doing everything that we can throughout our day to get interaction with their kid and create a rapport to get them involved,” he said.

It’s worth noting that in school districts like Bradford County, there’s a separate set of teachers who are specifically assigned to handle the virtual classes, which leaves the brick-and-mortar teachers to those students only.

News4Jax asked the district for a response to these concerns from its teachers but we haven’t yet received a response.

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