Over the past two months, life as we know it has drastically changed, and school is no exception. Amid the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the classroom has shape-shifted into an entirely new beast: Distance Learning.
Distance Learning promises the safety of students and staff, but has been a difficult transition for many. Teachers are busy finding a way to navigate distance learning, each with their own unique techniques.
The use of Zoom, an app that allows interactive video chatting, has by far been the most popular. However there have also been incredible stories about teachers that go above and beyond.
Mrs. Carrie Cassara, an elementary teacher at Kings Academy in Santa Clara even teamed up with a fellow teacher to bring joy to their young students.
” We ended up giving them some review workbooks that we hadn’t used. We also gave them a little class picture we had from Halloween and then just wrote a note to each one. We had our masks on and our gloves on and we delivered to each home, so we could see them through the windows…it was such a precious time,” said Mrs. Cassara.
At Heritage Ms. Laprade offers weekly Pictionary review for AP Art History, and even mails prizes to her students via Amazon; Just one of the many examples of resilience on our campus.
However despite positive responses to distance learning, it is undeniable that this new platform presents struggles not only for students, but for teachers.
“I am a fan of direct instruction so its nearly impossible to do that with all of my students during this time. Having to go through a problem with them while I am not next to them is hard,” said Mr.Bonnie, a math teacher at Heritage.
And he’s not alone. Distance Learning presents a roadblock for many teachers in terms of truly helping their students.
“There’s a great majority of kids that don’t have somebody there encouraging them and pushing them. Sometimes just being able to help somebody in the moment to continue is so valuable, and you don’t really get that in the virtual setting,”said Ms. Laprade.
Unfortunately, the struggles that teachers are facing go far beyond academics. The social aspect–what feels like the heart of their profession–has been removed.
“All teachers share one thing in common and its their love for students. It goes more than just the learning of academics; Its the social, it’s the personal…”said Mrs.Cassara.
The magic and the humanity of the classroom is nearly impossible to replicate virtually, making the process even more difficult
“The beauty of teaching is that you just don’t know what’s gonna happen from day to day. You plan a lesson, and you know you’re gonna implement that lesson, but you’ve got the human component, and so anything can happen. It’s like the greatest show on Earth,” said Mrs.Laprade.
We’ll be missing that show for a little while… However, this much is clear: Teachers are mourning the time lost just as much as students are.
“I miss laughing the most. Laughing all day, pretty much,” said Mrs.Laprade.
“I miss everything about being on campus. I miss being surrounded by student chatter, teachers teaching, campus supervisors zipping around in golf carts, counselors calling in students… I took this job because I get to be surrounded by students and seeing them succeed, but now it’s not the same,”said Mr.Bonnie.
And while we don’t yet know when school will be the same as it was, it’s important to realize that our teachers are being challenged professionally and emotionally. The importance of the classroom has become so evident for so many… We can only hope that we never take it for granted in the future.