Oklahoma Teacher Of The Year Finalist Reacts To Changing School Practices

Saturday, January 15th 2022, 10:21 pm

TULSA, Oklahoma -

As COVID-19 cases continue to spike across Oklahoma, school districts are beginning to feel its impacts.

"It is exhausting. It's been a really tough two years to be a teacher,” Rebecka Peterson said. 

Peterson is a math teacher at Union who began teaching over a decade ago. She is a finalist for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. One thing that inspires Peterson is connecting with her students.

"I sit down with each of my calculus students -- I have 115 this year -- during non-instructional time, and I just ask them to tell me their story,” Peterson said. 

With COVID cases climbing in Oklahoma, virtual learning has come back for some Union students. Peterson is worried that connection could be lost.

"I worry about how they're doing socially and emotionally, as well, because it takes such a toll to try to learn behind a screen to not have that interaction,” Peterson said.

Peterson said there was no virtual learning last semester. She noticed a difference.

"I just noticed what incredible growth the students made academically, and I really contribute that to being able to be consistently in person,” Peterson said.

Peterson said teaching during a pandemic with no end in sight is challenging because no one ever knows what to expect.

"I don't think there's ever been a harder time to be a teacher if I'm being honest,” Peterson said. “Sometimes, I think back and think we don't know how good we had it to know what tomorrow basically going to look like.” 

If you're a teacher, Peterson said you're probably facing fatigue and asking yourself, ‘How long can I keep this up?’

She also offered some encouragement through these times.  

"We need you. We need you so much. You are so valued. You are so important. You are so important to the future of Oklahoma,” Peterson said.