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'We were also students in a pandemic': New grad sees last year as selling point for new teachers

Posted at 4:30 AM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 06:30:46-04

BOISE, Idaho — Teachers certainly saw huge changes to their everyday roles in the last school year adjusting to hybrid, remote, and online learning. It’s had its challenges but some new graduates see the stress of the pandemic as a selling point for their peers seeking their first full-time positions.

Rachel Arnzen spent the spring semester finishing up her college courses while student-teaching sophomores in the Boise School District. Graduating with a degree in biology in December and secondary education this spring, Arnzen will be teaching 10th grade biology full-time next fall at Centennial High School.

“Hopefully in-person the whole year!” Arnzen said.

Arnzen and her peers have been transitioning into their teaching roles in a pandemic, playing the role of teacher and student simultaneously.

“I actually ended up having a course last fall that timed perfectly in the worst way which was my Teaching with Technology course,” Arnzen said. “It happened to be online due to Covid.”

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Arzen said adapting to remote learning as a student helped give her some insight into how to handle online learning as a teacher.

“It made me realize as a student what I needed more of in online learning and what I didn’t quite care for, so I was like, ‘Okay, preparing me for my own class,’” Arnzen said.

As most teachers would agree, Arnzen said she isn’t in it for the money, but rather the joy of watching her students grow. But still, as a native of Washington state, it’s easy to see where Idaho pay lags behind.

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“It’s really difficult to see the pay difference were I to have stayed in Washington versus staying in Idaho for teacher pay,” Arnzen said. “It’s never been about that for me, obviously I’m staying in Idaho, but it’s over a $10,000 difference for a first-year teacher salary.”

Rachel Arnzen graduation picture

As she and her classmates start scoring their first full-time positions, it seems the challenges of learning and teaching through a pandemic are giving them the upper hand.

“Districts should be looking at first-year teachers more than any time right now, because we just had to show how adaptable and flexible we are as student teachers, seeing all the changes as they come, we had a very unconventional time through that,” Arnzen said. “And then also we were students in the pandemic. We were students that had to learn online so we learned very well the struggles that come with that on the student side.”