The Struggles of Distance Teaching

By Hannah Lally

My mom, a nursing professor, describes teaching online as “talking to a brick wall.” Sure enough, when I peeked into one of her lectures and everyone had their cameras and microphones off. I will admit that I understand where her students are coming from. I don’t want people seeing me (and in today’s world, posting about me) when I look like a wreck. And if I’m going to be completely honest, I usually wake up 10 minutes before a Google Meets start and zone out for a good portion of it. However, after hearing my mom and my teachers’ insights into distance teaching, I have become more sympathetic towards teachers and more involved in class.

My math teacher, Mrs Bucci, told me about her experience educating online. She says it is “difficult to build connections with students and develop a class community.” I have noticed how much quieter classes are this year. Teachers used to constantly need to quiet us down, but there’s no need for that anymore as everyone keeps to themselves. Socialization is a key factor of school and it’s been impossible this year. Being able to have a supportive teacher-student relationship has definitely been a battle for everyone, especially teachers because that relationship allows them to provide for students’ unique learning styles. Last year, I used to walk into my teachers’ classrooms and start up a conversation with them; however, this year, I barely know anything about them because it’s always…Go! Go! Go!

That brings us to another point Mrs. Bucci brought up, she explains that “the pacing is a nightmare” she struggles with timing, and knows that  “the lag time creates disengagement.” She says “trying to engage online and in-person groups at the same time is difficult, but I’ll keep trying!” I could only imagine how hard it is to cater to both platforms at the same time. On one end, you have students on a computer screen, and on the other end, they’re right in front of you. It must be so challenging having to balance that plus keeping students entertained and wanting to learn. Teachers have to make sure the kids at home are understanding the information while dealing with technology issues.

“The lack of adequate technology really is frustrating,” Mrs. Bucci states, “Many of the sites or apps I would like to use are not supported by the tech and/or need a paid subscription which is not funded by the district.” Quarantine has forced teachers to discover new ways for quality education; whether that’s finding a new way to deliver information or a new way to connect with students. Many tools teachers would like to use are expensive, and with the end of the pandemic still up in the air, it is hard to say if buying new things is worth it. Along with that, the wifi at school has become increasingly worse. When I’m at home, I notice the teachers will be frozen for long periods of time, and when I’m at school, I notice the teachers struggle with the lag.

Despite the many hassles of distance school, teachers are working their hardest to provide excellent education to students and improve the delivery of it. They continue to prioritize students’ mental health. Mrs. Bucci claims, “Through all my mistakes, tech issues, and struggles, they (students) have been patient, kind, and supportive of my attempts.” The pandemic has brought distress to everyone’s lives, but together we can work together as a community and conquer it.

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