Perspectives On The Hybrid Learning Model


Sarah Hunyadi

I recently had the opportunity to interview Ms. Salisbury and Brett Tyree on their learning and teaching experiences with Covid-19. Brett Tyree is the Senior Editor of Operations of Eye of the Hurricane and an AP student. Ms. Salisbury is a long-term substitute teacher for about 2 years who is currently filling in for Mr. Abraham.


Question: Tell me a little about yourself.

Mrs. Salisbury: I’m originally from New Jersey, and I went to Youngstown State University where I earned my Bachelor’s of Science in Education. I have two licenses to teach, which means I can teach Italian and English. I came to the New Castle area because I have extended family in the area. I also have two cats that I will never stop talking about and will always happily show you pictures of them!

Question: Why do you love teaching?

Ms. Salisbury:  I love teaching because I love learning. I love learning new things, whether it be about a specific subject or a new hobby. I’m always looking for something new to learn. As an educator, I make a commitment every day to be a lifelong learner because to me, I cannot be an effective teacher without also being an effective learner. I love teaching because I’m able to share my excitement for learning with the people around me, whether they feel just as excited about it or not!

Question: What was it like working at school when the Coronavirus outbreak had hit?

Ms. Salisbury: When the outbreak first hit, it was a whirlwind of uncertainty. I very distinctly remember telling my classes that I would see them the following week before the long weekend, but that never happened. I have photos of the calendar display in my classroom from March 2020 that still displayed the date that we were supposed to return to school. But amidst all of it was a sense of “I got this.” I never questioned how I was going to reach my students or how I was going to make sure that they were learning. I knew that I was going to make it work, but there was certainly a learning curve with the shift to virtual learning.

 Question: What has been the hardest part about moving your classes online?

Ms. Salisbury: I can’t seem to pick just one, so I would say the two hardest parts are making sure the students are accessing the material and making sure there are no tech issues. It’s hard to know what’s going on with students while they’re at home, so I try to be understanding of their situations. What’s difficult, though, is when there are issues with the technology like computer issues or Wifi issues. Those are things that I can’t immediately solve, so it makes the whole process a little frustrating.

Question: How’s your experience teaching students from home as compared to teaching at school?

Ms. Salisbury: I’m honestly torn between the two! I never thought I would like working from home because I never thought I could be productive there. At one point during the pandemic, though, it was a necessity to teach from home, so I made sure I had a specific spot in my house where I could be “at school” and that I could walk away from it when “school” was over and feel like I was at home. That has helped me be so much more productive when working from home, and now I enjoy it! That doesn’t mean I don’t like coming to the building, though. I love being able to work within my classroom because I know I can be productive with zero distractions.

Question: What has been the biggest challenge and why?

Ms. Salisbury: If I’m being honest, the biggest challenge through all of this has been the negative comments on social media that I see everywhere about teachers. So many people on social media feel that teachers have been doing nothing throughout this entire pandemic, or that teachers want to stay home because they’re lazy, when the opposite is true. Teachers and school districts throughout our country have been putting in 210% to make sure our students are safe, healthy, and provided with the services that they need. Our own district is a beautiful example of how schools have stepped up to face the challenges that the pandemic has thrown at us. It’s disheartening to see so many people on social media talk negatively about our teachers, but I know that there are more people who see the value in what we’re doing. Those people, and my students, bring me peace.

Question: Are your students learning as much now as they were before switching to remote learning?

Ms. Salisbury: This one is a little difficult for me to answer, since I’m a long-term sub and have switched classes quite a bit. I think my students are learning just as much now as they were before moving to remote learning, but they’re not learning the same things that they would have had we not switched to remote learning. What I mean is, we may not be covering as much material in class as previously, but I feel like our student body and school as a whole are learning more about the importance of human connections; we’re learning more about how important and impactful mental health is; we’re learning more about our motivation and how we can control it; we’re learning more about how the world around us operates under stress; we’re learning more about empathy for others, and the list goes on. So, while we may not be learning as much content, we’re learning some valuable life skills and lessons along the way.

Question: What motivated you to keep working with virtual and hybrid students?

Ms. Salisbury: Since I’m a long-term sub, and I switched classes this school year, I had a whole group of students that I had never met before and was eager to meet them in person. It’s still important for me, though, to maintain the relationships I’ve created with the students who are remaining virtual. Like I said earlier, I’m a lifelong learner, and being presented with the task of teaching students in person and virtual at the same time is another opportunity to learn something, to help me grow as a person and as an educator. And I couldn’t just give up on my students.


Question: Tell me about yourself.

Brett Tyree:  I’m the Senior Editor of Operations for the Eye of the Hurricane this year, that’s basically the student manager. I’m an Advanced Placement student, taking 5 AP courses this year. A little bit more personally, I enjoy playing games, drawing, and modeling buildings and roads, and am a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo. On top of that, I really like to travel, camp, and kayak and am hoping that the pandemic will calm down by this summer – fingers crossed!

Question: What are your thoughts dealing with Covid-19 during your Senior year. 

Brett Tyree: My experience with dealing with covid in the past year has, in all honesty, been pleasant. I feel like being able to sit at home in my own chair, at my own desktop, and being able to do my schoolwork is more relaxing and less boring as being in the building. Not to mention that I can make my own hot lunch, and don’t have to sit around and “do nothing” when I have no class. In actuality, my grades have risen since last year, but not significantly, and I think that has to do a great deal with the comfort of my own home. I think virtual schooling is probably going to be the thing of the future.

Question: How would you like to be learning right now (more time at home, more time at school, etc.)?

Brett Tyree: Definitely at home. I think in-person classes won’t be able to safely return until next school year once the vaccines are more widely available. I think, truthfully, I would feel uncomfortable at school because I’ve noticed that a lot of people either do not wear their mask or wear it incorrectly. I don’t want to take that risk, I don’t know where they’ve been and who they’ve been in contact with.

Question: What do you like/not like about school right now? 

Brett Tyree: I think in some classes it is redundant to have meetings every single day. Others, however, such as math classes, it is a necessity to have meetings every single day. Additionally, I think the online schooling system is flawed in a way that many students may find ways to work around the system, which is unfair to their peers that are doing work legitimately. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is physically possible to fix this without an illegal invasion of privacy.

Question: How difficult or easy is it to stay focused on your schoolwork right now?

Brett Tyree: I’d say it is a lot easier to become distracted given the at-home environment, but I have had little trouble with it. The best way for me to stay focused is by doing things that many in-person would consider distracting, such as listening to music and talking to friends.

Question: Are you concerned about contracting COVID-19 by attending class?

Brett Tyree: I’m less concerned about contracting it myself than I am about spreading it to loved ones. My younger brother has to do his school at my grandparents’ house, so if I get it, the odds are he could spread it to them. I’ve seen first-hand that people are not following the guidelines set forth by the CDC such as proper mask usage and social distancing. And it is not possible, in many cases, to enforce these restrictions.

Question: Do you have any ideas on how to better integrate more interactive studies into a virtual learning setting? 

Brett Tyree: I think more students would be engaged if start times were later. I don’t know a single person that wants to get up at 7:30 AM every morning to go to class. Even just an hour later would make a huge difference. Kids will have more time to eat breakfast, get around, and some may even have additional time to study prior to tests. I also think it would help if more teachers had better microphones and cameras. The background noise can be very distracting!

Question: Do you feel Covid-19 has affected your college searching? 

Brett Tyree: If I were to have been asked this question 6 months ago I would have said yes. Today, though, no it hasn’t. Then, I was interested in three schools, two of which didn’t have in-person tours. It turns out that the ones I couldn’t tour gave me little financial aid in comparison to the school I will be attending, especially given the cost of those schools.

Question: Where do you plan on attending college and what do you want to study?

Brett Tyree: I’ll be going to Youngstown State University next year and I’ll be studying civil engineering. I’ve always had a weird sort of liking for the field, probably since I was 5. I’ve also been made clear that because of my college-in-high school credits, I’m likely going to have to dual major, so I’ll probably major in both structural engineering and transportation engineering, but I’m still undecided on that. Afterward, I plan on attending graduate school to obtain my master’s degree.