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Photo Courtesy of Alayna Wyche

Students in Michelle Coleman’s Art class.

Virtual Learning’s Impact on Teachers

February 8, 2022

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Everyone knows how difficult school was for students during Covid-19. During virtual learning many students were distracted, stressed, and failing. But what about teachers? How did they feel while teaching through a computer, with unresponsive students?

When schools around America started to shut down in March of 2020, many students were ecstatic about having a long summer. However, when August came, students learned that they were still going back to school, but not in-person. Unprepared, teachers were now converting all of their material online, and figuring out how to stay in contact with their students.

Elizabeth Pellicane, a Journalism teacher of 14 years, was not a fan of teaching online. “In the beginning there was a huge effort that we had to put into converting everything over to being online. Many students, frankly, used being at home as an opportunity to mentally check out when it came to school. So even when we came back this year, for many students, their work ethic is far worse than it used to be,” she said.

Transitioning from online or hybrid school to full, in-person learning this year has been draining for some students. While it has been an adjustment for teachers, it has also been somewhat of a relief. “I definitely prefer students being in the building and teaching them here. The disconnect between students and teachers through a screen causes more problems than it helps,” said Math teacher Jason Barnett.

So were teachers able to appropriately teach through a screen during the 2020-2021 school year?

Barnett said he was constantly interacting with his students, and not always on the subject of math. He wanted to hold students’ interests, and tried to make it so the students would want to come back to class. He did this through polls, surveys, and class discussions.

Many teachers often offered office hours or time outside of school hours to offer extra help to students. Teachers also made themselves available during the day, whether by email or in Google meetings, allowing students to ask for assistance.

“I was always available when a student needed help. Some students would take advantage of it and try to contact me late at night on the day it was due, but I understood people were trying to do work when they could so I tried to give them to freedom to work when they had a chance,” said Barnett.

“I offered office hours and I always stayed behind after the official class ended so that students could ask me questions if they had any. The shocking thing was that barely anybody ever took advantage of either,” said Pellicane said.

Despite these extra accommodations, many students did poorly during online learning, with many skipping classes (or signing in but not paying attention) in favor of sleeping, playing video games, or watching videos. Many FCHS teachers reported a large increase in the number of students who failed their classes.

While those numbers appear to have dropped since students returned to in-person classes, that loss of learning may take years for some students to fully recover from, a fact which teachers are currently grappling with as they try to help students make up those learning gaps.

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