Teacher speaks out on complications with career, personal life during COVID-19

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Screenshot provided by Maddie Gleason

With physics as his topic, teacher Nathan Floyd leads class from home on a Google Meet. Floyd is in-person on A-days and goes virtual on B-days. "I think there's a lot of strengths to virtual teaching." Floyd said. "Being in the times that we are, with the whole COVID-19 situation, it's the safest way to go."

Emma Hutchinson, Chief Operating Officer

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In a classroom tucked away inside a tiny hallway on the second floor, students gaze in awe as they watch potential energy turn into kinetic energy right in front of their eyes. Despite having a clear shield over his face or being behind a computer screen, physics teacher Nathan Floyd speaks to his students not only through engagement in class, but through his ability to relate to them.

With the return of on-campus learning, students and faculty have adjusted to the new routine of wearing a mask and interacting less in the classroom. For students, these new guidelines seemed to be an easy turn-around — wear your mask, keep your distance, wash your hands and go about your school day as normal. But the adjustments are not as subtle for teachers. Floyd is juggling his in-person and virtual students to keep his family safe by attending his classroom on A-days in-person and teaching from home on B-days.

“I think there’s a lot of strengths to virtual teaching,” Floyd said. “Being in the times that we are, with the whole COVID-19 situation, it’s the safest way to go.”

Science teachers have drastically changed the way they present their curriculum this year, with less interactive activities and labs that were previously used to help teach the content on a real-life scale.

“Teaching has not been the same,” Floyd said. “This year, we want to do so much, but we can do none of it because our hands are tied behind our backs.”

The virus has not only affected teachers’ jobs, but also their home life. Floyd and his family welcomed a baby boy in June 2020, and they have felt the repercussions of the pandemic.

It’s affected me in pretty much every way.” Floyd said. “Physically, it’s been demanding, mainly because there’s many different challenges I have to think about — I have to rehash my curriculum to face those challenges. Emotionally, it’s been difficult because there’s so much uncertainty, and I also just had a baby.” 

Floyd said his experience at the hospital was strange, and that not being able to have family come visit the baby subtracted from the experience because it didn’t feel right. 

“As far as having a baby during all of this, it’s kind of been off and on.” Floyd said. “There are a lot of things that are still normal. You know. You take care of the baby. You deal with the baby, but there’s a lot of things that we wanted to do with our baby that we didn’t really get to experience.”

Virtual student and senior Maddie Gleason joins Mr. Floyd on B-days because of health complications in her family. Although Gleason has Floyd first thing in the morning, she says that he keeps the class interesting and engaging.

“He is really proactive with repeating stuff, and it keeps you on your feet.” Gleason said. “He does a really good job with making sure we understand the content.”

Doing science labs virtually is more difficult to appreciate than actually doing them in the classroom, but Floyd has made sure to use videos and interactive websites to present the information and simulate labs that are usually done physically.

“A lot of the class is Google Slides, watching a video or doing a project with a Gizmo simulation.” Gleason said. “Those are fun because I can see what I’m learning about, and I’m a visual learner.”

In-person learner and junior Meghan Cox said she enjoys attending the class due to Mr. Floyd’s positive attitude and uplifting atmosphere of the classroom.

“His fun, interactive spirit is enough to brighten anyone’s day,” Cox said. “He consistently tries to present the content in a fun way with funny videos, mind-blowing physics discoveries, and sarcastic humor.”

Students can often become overwhelmed with multiple classes with loads of information, or “bleak-anxiety inducing classes,” but Floyd’s students said he encourages them to try their best and reminds them he is always available to give help.

“In his class he makes students feel heard and makes himself relatable, reliable, and approachable to his students, unlike many other teachers.” Cox said. “Sometimes it’s hard to know if teachers truly care, but one day in his class, and you can tell he loves what he does and cares for his students very much.”