Teachers’ opinions on online learning during Covid

Teachers%27+opinions+on+online+learning+during+Covid

While this pandemic may seem to be the new normal, parents, teachers and students alike are all navigating the tumultuous world of online learning. The routine may never settle in for some.

You know it; get up, eat, check work, attend three Zoom calls, more work, sleep. Instead of doing school from home, it seems as if we are living in our work.

While most of the hiccups experienced in Canvas last school year are nearly worked out, students and teachers are still finding it difficult to adjust. While the platform may be mostly running smoothly, it will never be the same as in-person learning.

“I think it is much better this fall than it was in the spring,” art teacher Beth Herrick said. “Though, I am not engaging as well as I would if we were together every day in person. There are subtle things that you can’t get online that you experience in person.”

The subtle things, the little nuances that teachers use to read their students, interact with them, and give them a better educational experience.

“It’s the conversations before class,” Herrick said. “It’s tough for teachers to see if students are absorbing the material when their cameras are off. You can’t see facial expressions or read body language. These are cues that teachers rely on when teaching in-person.”

Teachers are finding that many students don’t actively engage as much as in person. Many students turn off mics and cameras, and everyone is well aware of the awkward lull in class when no one answers a question or responds to a teacher.

“I try to ask my students about how things are going, but I’m not getting a whole lot of responses,” science teacher Meredith Kersting said. “Students that I’ve had in previous years tend to talk more than students I haven’t met yet. They may be intimidated and only know me as a voice hovering over the screen and don’t realize I’m a person and I want them to be successful.”

Many students agree that personal interaction is the most engaging way of learning, and it is really hard to participate and interact over a team’s meeting.

“The content is being taught as well as it can be done virtually,” senior Madeline Waterfield said. “[Teachers] are limited by seeing us less each week, I think everyone is doing their best with limited resources at their disposal.”

While students can empathize with the lack of engagement, it is very hard to adjust to a completely new structure of learning. Many feel that the workload is harder to complete, especially seniors who are working on college applications as well.

“I feel the workload is too much,” senior Ed Pena said. “On top of schoolwork, I’m applying to colleges, which is a whole different thing to work on. It’s gotten to the point where I feel guilty for doing the things I enjoy because I know I could be doing schoolwork instead.”

Students can feel very isolated during these times and the workload can pile on. Many teachers are trying to compensate for the lack of structure by assigning less work and being flexible on late work.

“I think students hate it,” social studies teacher Kimberly Deyton said. “I think this because they have said to me ‘I hate this,’ so I typically only assign one to three assignments a week and occasionally a discussion board to check-in.”

Herrick agrees.

“I need to back down a little bit because I have had so many conversations with kids who feel overwhelmed,” Herrick said. “It’s different doing homework in the evening when you have been physically at school all day than doing homework online after you’ve been online.”

A lot of teachers are quite aware of the overwhelming workload for students because a lot of them are piled on with their own work too.

“I am doing way more work than I traditionally do,” science teacher Mitchell Smith said. “Instead of being able to answer individual questions in front of the group, I end up answering the same questions repeatedly to different students. I also have a tremendous amount of grading that would be easier to do in person.”

Some even say that online learning is creating far more work than they have ever had, especially teachers who teach different content in each of their classes.

“My workload is bigger this year than in any of my 10 years of teaching,” Kersting said. “It is overwhelming to do my honors courses on top of my AP courses.”

While teachers agree that the workload is much more during this pandemic, many have different opinions on physically returning to school in January. Some feel concerned about the lack of enforcement of the COVID guidelines.

“I am nervous about our return in January. I am concerned that students won’t wear their masks like they are supposed to wear them,” Herrick said. “I am concerned about the workload for me personally. I am concerned about students also being overloaded with too much work. When we return, we all need to follow the rules, COVID protocol and we need to take baby steps to ease into the change.”

With COVID cases on the rise and students around the country being sent back home, it is a reasonable concern that we may not even return to school at the estimated time.

“Part of me thinks it’s not going to happen, especially with COVID cases on the rise,” Kersting said. “I’m not excited about it. I would like to go back face-to-face like a normal school, but I am not excited about the A/B day possibility and not having all my students together. I won’t be able to do labs; I think overall (going back) will be an additional stressor.”

While some are nervous, others are just excited to see the students, even with the guidelines in place.

“I’m ambivalent about going back to school in January. I’m nervous being in school if the coronavirus is still in abundance,” social studies teacher Damian Jackson said. “However, I would like to see the students.”

Many feel similarly and wish that we could attend school even sooner than January.

“I would like for students to come back now. I miss the personal interactions with my students,” Smith said.

Online learning is new for almost everyone, overwhelming most people. It is important to remember to take time for yourself and stay safe.

In the meantime, we have to make do with what we are able to do now.

“If the safety measures are in place and followed 100% of the time, I am more than ready to come back in January,” Deyton said. “I wish it could be sooner, but I understand the health and logistical issues that have to be worked out before high school can come back.”