The transition from the physical classroom to the virtual has been a new experience for the majority of students and teachers across the nation. Teachers all over the country have had to adjust to a variety of challenges. The transition to the online classroom has also impacted their daily personal lives, as well.
Ms. Humphrey, the AP government teacher at MC, teaches full time, while balancing not only coursework for a master’s degree, but managing being a mother of two kids as well. A regular school day in the virtual classroom starts bright and early every morning for Ms. Humphrey.
“I wake up at five everyday […] because I have to get myself ready […] and get my kids ready, too. And then I basically start work at around 6:30 a.m. […] I probably work until around 4:30 everyday. Then my kids come home and then I go from teacher to being a mom,” Humphrey said. “Sometimes I do work after my kids go to bed. Then I go to bed and repeat the same routine the next day. It’s a lot.”
The teachers have had to learn how to use new technological resources online and how to deal with any issues that come along with using these new platforms. The MC staff has been working extra hours behind the scenes to make sure that class goes as smooth and productive as possible. The time, effort, and after-hours our MC staff dedicate to their jobs is something that Biology and Human Biology teacher Mr. Miller takes very seriously.
“Within our science department, there definitely has a lot of behind the scenes work going on that most students are not aware of. The science department redid our workbooks and like all the other departments, converted almost every aspect of the class to be online,” Miller said. “We put a lot of time into experimenting with platforms like Canvas and Kami, as well. As a department, we usually commit about 30 hours to just using these platforms alone, on a daily basis.”
Not being able to set foot on campus for almost seven months was unanticipated by many teachers and students. There are lot of aspects of being on campus that students and teachers have to miss out on and are just not used to. One thing Mr. Miller misses the most is the connections he is able to make and form with his students. This is something he has appreciated more since the start of online learning.
“For me it’s the relationships that you build[…]. I don’t get that five minute passing period between classes when I can give my kids knuckles and just ask how they’re doing and learn what the kids are all about,” Miller said. “That’s the culture of the school to me, a place where everybody matters, everybody counts. I also miss that human contact for the kids as well, too. I’m sure they miss their friends and just being able to interact on campus with them.”
Having to deal with the students’ needs and experimenting with new learning strategies every week is what the MC teachers have to put up with everyday. Having to make sure lesson plans are prepared, links are accessible, and getting students to participate virtually is a challenge for all teachers. Math teacher of Integrated 2b, 3a-3b and Statistics, Mr. Andrade thinks of this transition as more of a “learn as you go” experience.
“We have new problems we need to adjust to everyday. And the issues we face in the physical classroom are just very different from the ones we face virtually,” Andrade said. “Discipline in the virtual classroom is much easier than in the regular classroom […]. Stuff like sharing my screen is great because I know that everyone is really seeing it. Being able to see reactions and read body language is something I really struggle with most because on Zoom some have their cameras turned off; So I wouldn’t know if they really are grasping the material or not.”
Mr. Andrade feels that it is important to make the kids feel comfortable in class whether it is online or in a physical classroom. Andrade does this by trying his best to incorporate his personal teaching style online.
“I try to just be myself. I try to pretend that I am still in the front of the class by the whiteboard. I still try to make the same jokes and act like the funny goofball teacher I am,” Andrade said.
Many classes like choir, music, and drama are especially tough to transition online because the curriculum is based solely off of students being able to read off of each others’ actions. Being able to keep the students engaged and involved has been a real challenge for MC’s choir and music teacher, Ms. Martinez.
“It is especially hard to keep my beginning and concert choir students engaged. They are new to singing and choir. They don’t get that it usually isn’t this way,” Martinez said. “My students are all involved in a virtual choir. As far as my two advanced choirs go [Bel Canto and Classical] they see the bigger picture. Many of them have been with me for four years. They understand that this is temporary.”
Ms. Martinez faces daily challenges when it comes to the online classroom, besides trying to keep her choir students as comfortable in the virtual classroom as possible. She has struggled the most with the technological portion of the online classroom, but plans to apply these newfound skills once we go back on campus.
“Most of my struggles have come from my own lack of knowledge of educational technology. I have learned a large amount of information and now have a skill set that I probably would not have learned had we not been in distance learning. I will use these skills when we return to the classroom.” Martinez said.
This transition has been a challenging experience for all. But with dedication, effort, patience, and time the MC staff has been making it work. Although they may have struggled initially, MC’s teaching staff have been able to persevere through the chaos and put all their efforts towards making this year a great school year.