By Hailey Boehme
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has brought a number of changes to how the school year looks. One of those changes is virtual teaching in the classroom. We spoke to teachers including: Profe Richardson and Mrs. Holmes, supervisor Ms. Forkenbrock, and students Aubree Witschonke and Olivia Miranda to get a feel for how this has impacted comprehension levels, relationships, and grades.
What is the experience like and how does it work
Richardson (Spanish 1 and 2): In my class, students join my teams lesson via a link on Schoology or by using a QR code in my classroom. From there we always have a question or two of the day in which students will either chat with each other, share back with me, or type in the chat box. Then, there is a practice activity and a game followed by worktime on online tasks. I think it is useful to have a consistent set up day by day and that there is also always work time set aside so that students will always have the opportunity to ask questions.
Holmes (Freshman Health Class): Students are expected to click on the Teams link in my Schoology page at the beginning of class and have their camera on them, headphones in, and mics off (this is to help with the screeching feedback sound). I talk through my lesson for the day and if there is an assignment, then they will have some work time. I tell them at the end of class when they can exit the meeting.
Miranda (Physical Science): I join a Teams meeting with my teacher every Thursday and Friday at the beginning of class. We then stay on the call and wait for instructions on what we will be doing in class.
What are some benefits you have noticed to the virtual teaching method?
Witschonke (English 1, Algebra 1, AP Human Geography): A big benefit I have noticed is everything is mostly self-paced or has a due date that doesn't feel too soon.
Forkenbrock: Some benefits I’ve noticed with the virtual teaching method is that it’s requiring students to take control of their own learning. [The teacher] will lead the whole class in online instruction and she’ll have them do activities in class but in the end, those students are in control of their own learning… Another benefit I’ve noticed is that students can “raise their hand” in a Teams call or write in the chat in the background, so it’s just like a virtual simulation of being in class!
Holmes: Students seem to be more attentive because if they don’t watch/listen to directions they are lost on what to complete. Also, if students are absent from class and at home, they can get on Teams and they don’t miss any instruction.
What are some downfalls you have noticed?
Miranda: Lots of technical problems.
Richardson: As a teacher you REALLY have to plan out minute by minute how you are going to deliver content to students and how students are going to practice. If you need students to split their screen, you need to quick teach it; if students need an app, you have to set aside time to download it; if you are going to have students do a speaking or writing practice, you really have to think about how you are going to have students do that. Planning takes way longer than in person, [but] the biggest drawback will always be not being able to actually be with students. Students bring energy and excitement, and I love being in the classroom with them.
Holmes: I feel as if I don’t have a good connection with all of my students over the computer. Some students are afraid to ask questions because the whole class will hear them. It’s frustrating when the technology doesn’t work from both my end and the students.
Do you prefer it over an in-person class – why or why not?
Witschonke: I honestly like both a lot but, if I had to choose one, I’d pick online because I feel I can control my schedule more.
Miranda: I do not prefer online over an in-person class because I feel like it is much harder for me to learn through a screen.
Holmes: I am split 50/50 on being online and in person. I feel I am missing out on the student connection piece, but I am feeling successful teaching online.
Richardson: It is hard to say. I am not sure what an in-person hybrid class feels like because I have not taught in person in a hybrid setting. Given what I am doing right now, online, it has its challenges but it also has been a new learning experience and I believe I am growing as a teacher.
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