Teachers Meet Challenges of Online School

We are currently battling a deadly virus that has locked us in our homes and glued us to our screens. We are unable to attend school, and students and teachers have been placed in a virtual environment that is out of our comfort zone. Immersed in the student experience, most students don’t stop to think about what the teachers are experiencing.

P.E. teacher Mr. Jenkins had mixed feelings when he first heard the news last spring.

“As a person, I was happy, as I think it was the right move to slow the spread of the virus. But as a teacher, I was intimidated,” said Jenkins, “because the online learning environment is a lot harder to manage as a teacher and specifically as a health and physical education teacher. It was very challenging for me to try and come up with ways to make the P.E. content specifically fit the online classroom.”

Science teacher Ms. Burnett’s main concern about online learning is student engagement. She was concerned about how seriously students would take school when placed in a fully virtual environment.

“I was also concerned about how I would lead students in hands-on activities, which are so important in a science classroom.”

Creative Writing teacher Ms. Duggan was concerned with connecting with students, especially in the fall when she wouldn’t know them at all. Another concern that she had was having to learn and adapt to new forms of technology.

Teachers have had a variety of unusual problems to deal with in the online environment. One such problem is called “ghosting”

“Ghosting is where students log in, but they aren’t paying attention, or they go and do other things,” explained Ms. Burnett. “It’s very frustrating as a teacher to see students not doing work or learning things because they’re making bad choices during class time, and then they get upset by their low grades or the mountain of make-up work they have to do later.”

Another problem for Ms. Burnett: “Finding ways to change up my lesson delivery, so it’s not boring for everyone (me included!).”

Mr. Jenkins’ main problem is that he cannot check for student understanding when he’s teaching a lesson to a screen with a bunch of blank profile pictures on it.

Whatever we are going through as students, teachers are struggling just as much in these unprecedented times. We’ll make it through this together.