Teacher Tea: Garza

Teacher shares experience moving to new school during pandemic


Photo by Henry Hays

Garza lectures the class about probability by talking about flipping coins. He said he is happy to be teaching in person again. “Not seeing the students was really odd,” Garza said. “It almost felt like I was recording a lesson for people to watch another time.”

Precalculus teacher Matthew Garza began his first day teaching at Hebron greeted by one face and several black screens. His first day was an odd one, filled with turned off cameras and back pain from sitting at a computer all day. Without anyone responding, he couldn’t even be sure if the students were there. To him, it didn’t feel like he was teaching people. 

Garza is beginning his first year at Hebron after teaching geometry at Azle High School for three years. This is Garza’s first year teaching precalculus, and he has had to adjust to teaching in a COVID-19 environment. 

“I’ve never taught pre-calculus,” Garza said. “Yeah I took it in high school, but that was 11-12 years ago. I had to figure out how I am going to teach it in a way that is going to build on itself, because I did not instantly become familiar with the semester’s worth of curriculum.”

Due to COVID-19, the school year began online for three weeks before returning in-person. Garza had to adjust his class to fit with the new format and rules. 

“During the remote learning phase I definitely felt a little restricted as far as what I could do with a lesson,” Garza said. “Even now, back in-person, I think it has gotten a lot better, but I used to really like activities that require a partner, and it’s definitely harder to get students working side-by-side when you’re not supposed to be.”

Garza said the remote part was easier than he expected and he was happy with the resources he was provided with. His first day attendance was nearly perfect, something that rarely happened at his old school.

“I thought it would be [harder], because you have to make everything accessible to the students away from the classroom, and to a certain extent it was harder, probably more so for the students than myself,” Garza said. “The students really have a handle on the resources given to them, and it definitely made my job easier.”

To Garza, the fact that he has joined a new school has been lost since everyone is having to adjust to the new school environment. 

“We are all having a hard time together, as opposed to being a new teacher and struggling to adjust to the culture and different policies between schools,” Garza said. “That is something I would be running into either way, but now everyone is having to respond to change, in that respect it kind of feels like I’m not alone in any struggles I might have.” 

Students have returned to school with many new rules and safety precautions meant to keep everyone safe. Garza said he prefers to be teaching in-person rather than online.

“I am so excited to be teaching in-person again,” Garza said. “There is so much in the classroom that doesn’t translate to the WebEx meetings. I’m not sitting there with my camera on making conversation like you might in a classroom when you have downtime. It definitely feels more human.”