By: KADEN SCHARNOW
As we kick off the first few months of the online school year via Zoom meetings and Google Classroom, one could only wonder how well everyone’s taking it, especially our teachers. How have they been adapting to online teaching? Does adaptation vary with each subject? Are they comfortable with how things are now? It’s common sense to assume that not all are comfortable or not. One can see how a Physical Education classroom would be challenging with quarantine and exercising at home. One could also see how a technology teacher would thrive over virtual teaching since students will have to learn more about technology to adapt to online learning. Let’s see how they’re all doing.
Some teachers had good things to say about distance learning, and how they feel it’s helped their students in education. Lauren Brown, an 8th-grade teacher from Oak Park, Illinois, expresses her thoughts on distance learning: “My students are eighth-graders. They may not be learning as much history as my former students, or writing as many essays, but they are LIVING history right now. But they’re learning so much- resilience, time management, and how to be responsible for their learning.” Though students may not be achieving as much as the students before them, they’re learning valuable traits that will aid them in the future. Responsibility is a useful trait to learn in these times, and a helpful quality for your life. Jodi Ramos, a 6th-grade teacher from San Antonio, Texas, also had something positive about distance learning: “I believe that this distance learning has enhanced portions of my teaching. I am now allowed to utilize technology that I perhaps haven’t had time to before. I’ve also noticed that my students who have struggled academically in class are excelling online.” Some classes have struggling students improving academically, which is terrific news! And some teachers have perfectly adapted or are thriving over distance learning. But again, it’s only common knowledge that not all teachers are thriving or adapting perfectly.
Kaitlin Barnes, a 4th-grade teacher from Baltimore, Maryland, worries for her students: “Over 80 percent of students at my school come from low-income families. Only a quarter of my students have a computer at home. For economically disadvantaged students, this outbreak means they will fall even further behind their wealthier peers.” Teachers may be adapted, but not comfortable, for they’re worried for their students. Lower-income families that can’t afford to buy a computer for their children fall far behind their peers. Teachers feel like they’re stuck and can’t do anything to help. Stacey Travis, a high school math teacher from Maryville, Tennessee, feels a sense of loss from distance learning: “I miss getting to celebrate with them, cry with them, laugh with them. These are memories with my seniors that I will never get back. That is what hurts the most.” Teachers miss having bonds and relationships with their students, as virtual learning significantly limits that. Tensions and relationships are a vital part of the classroom, and virtual learning takes that away from teachers and students, leaving a sense of loss for both.
So teachers feel like academically, distance learning is excellent for their teaching as it introduces new, advanced learning techniques and tools that could be used again in the future. And they feel proud that their students are adapting well to such a problematic situation of learning, in such a stressful time. But, as lovely as that may seem. The virtual classroom takes away the emotion and bondage the teachers have with students. Students will usually have to go through something or celebrate something in school alone, as teachers can’t be there to help them or congratulate them. And sadly, some students can’t even afford to buy a computer for their education, and they fall behind. And that makes teachers feel like they can’t do anything to help, and they honestly can’t do anything to help. They all want the best for their students, but they also want to get to know students and establish a good relationship. So this pandemic may be academically promising for teachers, but there will always be some sort of loss for teachers as the virtual classroom takes the life and color out of our physical classrooms.