Teachers watch over blank screens


Photo by Sara Rand

Kimberlie Mattern teaches class with all of her students’ cameras off.

Raven Easterly, In-depth editor

  Students and teachers are both adapting to online learning, but for teachers who have been working with students traditionally for years, it has been challenging.   

  “Being in the P.E. department, our curriculum is all activity based so for teachers in this department it’s been a lot more organization on our part to find activities that students can do on their own,” Timothy Torkelson, P.E. teacher said. 

  Without having students’ cameras on, knowing how their students are reacting to the material is another obstacle for teachers to hurdle.   

  “The part that’s a little more frustrating for me is that out of 35 students, I might get 6 that actually show their faces,” Lynda Clark, math teacher, said. “As a teacher, I read my students to see if they’re frustrated or if they’re bored, so I think it would be a lot better if students would actually let us see their faces.”  

  Sometimes it is difficult to even know if some of the students are paying attention, or even at their computer at all. 

  “Since we don’t have mandatory camera time I don’t know if students are paying attention, if they are even there or if they just log on and disappear while they do something else,” Scott Kupka, English teacher, said. 

  Due to everyone being online, there are also going to be some technical difficulties, including computers crashing and WIFI signals going down.  

  “I am on my third laptop right now, my first laptop’s touch screen stopped working, the second laptop they gave me, my Zoom wasn’t working very well because the kids couldn’t see what I was screen sharing, and then I had to get a third laptop and that one finally worked,” Nicole Jeffery, science teacher, said. 

  Similarly to teaching at school, teaching at home can include a lot of distractions that can make teaching a class a little more difficult. 

   “I have two dogs, and one I brought on screen, but my German shepherd is constantly making weird noises in the back. She’ll moan, she’ll whine, she’ll bark, she won’t get on camera, but you can definitely hear her in the background,” Jeffery said. 

  Despite the drawbacks, online learning does have a positive environmental effect, students and teachers are using less paper than if they were to while at school. 

  “I don’t think we need to use as much paper as we do in-person, so I guess environmentally, it’s a plus because as an English teacher I was putting so much on paper, that I now realize that students can do this virtually,” Rose Fleming, English teacher, said. 

  With all the ups and downs, many teachers would prefer to go back to school under normal circumstances.  

“I think I prefer in-person school, although I do know that this is becoming the wave of the future. Many students are doing college online, so it’s not a new concept, and it’s going to be part of our world from now on,” Clark said.