Math with No Teacher?

Katie Mohr

Imagine walking into class during the first month of school, excited and ready to start class off strong. School burnout hasn’t made its appearance yet. You’re getting ready for math: you can smell the wood from your pencil, the paper is crisp, and your calculator sits on the desk begging to be used. The teacher isn’t there though, but never fear, he or she is definitely just in the teacher workroom. The bell rings, no teacher. 5 minutes, no teacher. 30 minutes, still no teacher. The next thing you know 90 minutes is up and you’re heading to your next class. Surely the teacher will be there next class, right? Wrong.

While the idea of having a class with no teacher may seem like a strange concept, for sophomore Molly Stitzel it was a reality. Her pre-calculus honors class was one of many math classes that either didn’t have a teacher, or the teacher quit a few weeks into the year.

“We had a teacher for maybe the first 2 weeks, then she told us she was leaving.” Stitzel said.

What happened next may be considered a student’s dream. There seemed to be a line of miscommunication, and there was no work to be completed, leaving the kids to do whatever they wanted. 

“There were a few weeks during the first quarter when we really had nothing to do and we would just talk and play games during class.” Stizel said. “I’m not sure that anyone really realized we had no work to do.”

Reynolds, as well as other schools around the county and even nation, has been struggling to find teachers and fill the gaps that are created when those who had been hired decide to quit. For Stizel’s class, a solution still hasn’t been found.

“We still have no teacher, but Ms. Morris is sort of keeping up with our grades and we are doing the work from Mr. Lanier’s class and watching recordings of his classes.” Stitzel said. “There was also a period of time when there was a parent volunteer coming in to help out with any questions we had.”

According to Stizel, the administration is working hard to make sure she and the students in her class stay on track. However, that doesn’t negate the weeks spent learning nothing, creating the possibility of getting far behind what is necessary in the curriculum. Thankfully for Stitzel that doesn’t seem to be a problem. 

“I feel like I am learning now that we have the recordings from Mr. Lanier and actual assignments to complete, but I don’t think I entirely learned everything from 1st quarter.” Stitzel said. “We only had about 10 grades for first quarter, but we are now keeping pace with Mr. Lanier’s classes so I don’t feel too behind.”

Unfortunately, the same sentiments can not be shared by everyone in that pre-calculus honors class. Next up comes AP Calculus, and in order to succeed in that college level course you must be prepared. Going without a teacher for the first two quarters and essentially having to teach yourself the material complicates things.

“I don’t think this will affect me personally in regards to taking Calculus next year, but I have been keeping up with the work and making sure to learn the content.” Stitzel said. “There are definitely people who aren’t learning the content because it requires a lot of self responsibility and initiative to go watch the videos and do the work without an actual teacher there to help consistently.”

Despite the challenges thrown at these students this year, many seem to be succeeding. Hats off to those that are able to take that challenge, adapt, and move forward. According to Karen Morris, Stitzel’s class will apparently be getting a new teacher in November, which will hopefully put all students on the right track.