Teachers express what they think the pros and cons are about having to teach online
It is December. We are four months into this alternate reality we call “school.” Not only have students have found the transition challenging, but teachers are also learning how to adjust to teaching online.
Mr. Anderson, a math teacher at American High School, expresses that these times are difficult. He realizes that there are numerous negative aspects with Zoom classes.
“Even though we’re not in class, it is a lot more work than if we were in person. There is a lot more preparation for putting things online and then grading things online,” he says. “But the most difficult thing for me is that it’s harder to make contact with students and to get to know them. When you’re teaching in person, I usually look for cues from facial expressions or just from reactions from students to see if they are understanding things and that’s really difficult to do online.”
Mr. Anderson is not the only one who feels this way. Mr. Ramirez, another math teacher at American High School, relates to Mr. Anderson about the social obstacles concerning Zoom.
“I don’t get the one-on-one feedback that I would normally get when I’m in the classroom. So, I don’t really know if my students are understanding the concepts because I can’t really see their facial expressions. Personally, I think it’s hard. I think I wouldn’t be able to learn this way if I was a student,” he explains. “For math specifically, online school makes it more difficult to deliver content that is going to be helpful for my students. I think it needs to be more engaging for students to learn. I don’t see that many students engaging, I just see tiles of the people on the screen.”
Not being able to interact with students clearly affects the learning environment. For science teacher Mr. Oviatt, this also plays a big role on how he deals with his teaching plans.
“Because the classes that I teach are inherently more physical and more interactive for the students with labs and things like that, it makes it a lot harder to do that in a digital world,” he points out. “Watching students go through some of the lab activities is one of the big aspects of science classes. Students get to be active and get to touch things or do physical learning activities, which is limited, obviously, in the digital world. I can give a virtual lab but it’s still online and just clicking buttons.”
Though there are numerous drawbacks that come with online school, it hasn’t been all bad.
Mr. Anderson reveals, “For me, being able to stay home with my family and kids during the day is a plus.”
Since we are not physically together as one congruent unit, our online experience is varied and individualized. Some find this experience positive, some find it negative, some find it neutral. Mr. Oviatt explains his bright side of this situation.
He mentions, “It’s been a significant less commute. Instead of me having to get up and come to school, it’s me having to get out of bed and roll into another room where my desk is.”
Mr. Ramirez also looks at this unusual circumstance with some optimism about waste.
“I’m not printing out as much paper. Also, I’m not running back and forth between the copiers and my classroom to get assignments and such. In addition, I’m not using as many whiteboard markers and saving a lot of materials that we would normally use,” he states.
Through it all, both students and teachers had to adjust to a new learning environment. While some of the negative and positive aspects are shared sentiments, it is interesting to learn about the other’s perspective. Online school may not be an ideal situation but it’s the only choice we have right now. These teachers have shown their dedication to teaching their students, acknowledging the limitations on online classes, and reminding us to look at the silver linings.