Helena science teachers adapt during pandemic

Posted at 8:16 AM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 10:32:41-05

HELENA — It has been a challenging time for teachers and students since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, especially teachers of hands-on subjects such as science.

Megan Lane teaches Life Science at C.R. Anderson Middle School. Fighting through tears she says: “The parents and the kids, and this makes me teary eyed, they are working so hard. I just want parents and students to know we know how hard they’re working.”

It has been a hard year, but teachers are giving it their very best.

“It’s definitely been a unique year. It's one we will never forget, both students and teachers,” said Christina Sieminski, who teaches biology at Capital High School.

Lane adds: “I don’t tell funny jokes, but normally I will get the pity laugh, or the 'Oh my gosh,' hard eye roll, 'Mrs. Lane is at it again,' but I don’t get any of that this year."

Sieminski and Lane have been teaching for a combined 35 plus years, and they admit this year is different.

Lane questioned how she would be able to connect with her students through a computer screen, and how would she still conduct hands-on science lessons remotely.

Sieminski says: “Almost everything we do is hands-on, or has a hands-on component."

But like everyone else, teachers have had to adapt and find unique ways to teach lessons online.

“There’s some really cool virtual labs out there, where they can take a slide and look at it under a microscope, which is pretty similar to what we do in the class,” Sieminski said.

Communication between teachers and students is key, and in some ways, Sieminski says, the online format has improved communication.

She added: “I didn’t get many student emails in the past about how to do an assignment, but kids are really reaching out and I think that’s good because it is teaching them to advocate for themselves.”

One of the biggest differences this year is the positive relationships teachers have built not only with students, but with their parents.

Sieminski says: “I have worked a lot more with parents than I normally would with high school aged students, and they have been overall really great to work with, and supportive.”

Both teachers says they’ve grown exponentially as educators, but they’re looking forward to normalcy.