Learning New Things

"I have taught for 27 years and was comfortable with riding out the rest of my career doing what I have always done the way I have always done it. COVID was a game-changer."

Social Studies Teacher

Social Studies Teacher

Piedmont IB Middle School

Piedmont IB Middle School

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My biggest success during the pandemic was the opportunity to grow. I have taught for 27 years and was comfortable with riding out the rest of my career doing what I have always done the way I have always done it. COVID was a game-changer. I learned how to effectively use Canvas, explored new resources, used new forms of communication and adopted new teaching styles with virtual learning.

My #1 struggle as a teacher was not having the opportunity to meet and get to know most of my students and their families. My teaching philosophy begins and ends with RELATIONSHIP. Forging relationships with students is the bedrock of being an impactful teacher. This was a huge challenge this year. I continually tell the story about how someday, I will be in a store, and someone will say, "Hey Mr. Reddig," and I will have no clue who they are because, although they saw me on Zoom for an entire year, I have never seen their face before. YES! There are many of my students that I have never seen their faces. I had three students named Ryan in my second block class and it took me a long while to figure out which of them were female and which of them were male.

I have taken advantage of the opportunity to reflect and grow during this time. I have challenged others to do the same. I started a men's devotional every Tuesday night that has been ongoing without missing a week for an entire year now. I was able to do some reading and take more initiative in school and on societal issues. I realized that I am not too old to learn new things. I also took the initiative to check in on people, provide encouragement, keep a prayer list and journal.

I will never forget the endless nuances that came with teaching during COVID-19: teaching at a desk, sitting all day, wearing a mask while I teach, stacking desks against the wall, cleaning desks between every class, taking attendance for every class and submitting three different codes, conferencing with a student on Zoom, grading policy adjustments...so much...Everyone I talk to says they have a deep appreciation for educators, but nothing is really done to show educators how much society really values them. Teachers have done all of this with NO pay raises and a lot of public opinion backlash. I am interested to see how the teaching profession looks in a couple of years. My guess is that the teacher shortage is going to be a catastrophe, and I wonder who is going to accept the responsibility.

- Ronny Reddig

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