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Highland teacher: Kids happy to be in school

RIVERSIDE — Two teachers from the Highland elementary school spoke about how the school year has gone under the hybrid model at the school board meeting on Monday.

Janelle Sulhoff, instructional coach, and first grade teacher Rebeca Yoder shared positives and barriers they have seen since starting school in the hybrid model.

“You are not going to find a single teacher that is not happy to see their kids,” Yoder said.

Yoder said the teachers are excited, and the kids are just as happy to be in school.

Highland is using a hybrid model where half of students are in class at a time and the other half are doing online lessons.

Because of the small number of students, Sulhoff said they can manage and teach the mitigation strategies.

Yoder said they have had a lot of collaborative learning and their professional development time is spent working through issues.

“I personally feel that this has been a huge building block for collaborative learning, even just with my grade-level partner,” Yoder said.

Because of the small class sizes, Yoder said she is able to get more one-on-one learning with kids and build a better relationship with her kids.

Another positive the teachers have seen is the kids are excited about the new playground.

“After all the rain we had last week, to be able to take the kids outside and not have to worry about mud and mulch is amazing,” Sulhoff said.

Some of the barriers the teachers face include pacing and a work-life balance.

At this point, Sulhoff said there is nothing standing in the way that they cannot work through. As a staff, they have been working through problems during professional development.

There are kids who need daily interventions but are only going to get the instruction two or three times a week.

“What things can we give them at home to make sure those skills are still being taught without overwhelming them,” Sulhoff said.

Yoder said pacing has been a question on many people’s mind and even though they started the year off slow, they are problem solving.

With the hybrid model, Yoder said it takes a lot of personal time to prepare the lessons, videos and in-person education.

“The biggest barrier some of our staff is having is trying to figure out how to manage person life versus school life, Yoder said.

Sulhoff and Yoder said overall, they feel supported by the administration and the students feel safe.