School year proves to be a challenge for remote teachers

Elizabeth+Riemer+teaches+and+works+online+using+her+computer.

Elizabeth Riemer

Elizabeth Riemer teaches and works online using her computer.

Joy Han, Staff Writer

 

For many teachers, the school day begins when they walk into the school building. This year, though, some teachers begin the school day in a more unconventional manner: by logging on to their computers. Whether they teach RLA students or livestream themselves into hybrid classes, these teachers face the unique challenge of doing their work remotely. 

“The district allowed people with medical issues or household members with medical issues to work remotely, which was very kind of them,” explained Elizabeth Riemer, an English RLA teacher. 

Regardless of whether teachers are providing instruction online or in person, in many ways, life at home is similar to life in the school building.

“I have the same schedule as the students. The day starts at 7:45. . . . Sometimes [I have] meetings with our department. 8:45 is when the first class starts, then the second class, [and so on],” shared Sophie Kulas, a French teacher who uses Zoom to conduct hybrid classes. 

However, this year in particular, the workload can extend late into the day.

“One thing that I think a lot of students and teachers have found this year is that there’s not as much a sense that the work day ends,” said Riemer. “You can meet [with students] at 5 p.m. because all the meetings are Zoom anyway.”

In addition, this sort of scheduling can take a physical toll as well.

“The drawback of doing this is we’re all spending way too much time in front of the computer,” said Kulas. “I don’t go out enough . . . and I’m sure it’s not very healthy.”

A specific difficulty unique to remote teachers is the loss of casual interaction with students.

“The [lack of opportunities] to see students in other situations, like in the library, the hallways, the cafeteria, during concerts, plays, sporting events, and assemblies have made it doubly hard to really connect,” explained Moncrieff Cochran, who teaches 3 RLA History classes.

Similarly, not being able to see colleagues can also take its toll on remote teachers. 

“I’m a fairly social person and I miss just walking the halls and seeing the other teachers. I miss dropping in on teachers and watching them teach, because that’s how I learn a lot about teaching,” added Mitch Finnegan, an at-home Health teacher for both remote and hybrid classes. 

Some students also agree that remote teaching feels less personal. 

“I definitely have a better connection with the teachers I go to see [in person],” shared Haven Trodden, a sophomore who attended first semester Health and Photo with remote teachers. “I like meeting the teachers and it was hard to get to know them over just [Zoom].”

Meanwhile, the constraints that come with remote teaching have forced some teachers to adjust their curriculum to suit the needs of their current students.

“We have less time with students, so we’ve had to really pare back on how in-depth we go into some of the subjects,” Finnegan said. 

Consequently, other teachers have found it ever more challenging to ensure that students learn subjects thoroughly. 

“The limitations . . . [make] me worry about the total amount of material students will have absorbed and retained by the end of the year,” Cochran said as well. 

Each teacher has done their best to handle these obstacles. To compensate, some teachers are putting extra effort into lesson planning.

“I would say it’s taken a whole lot more time to prepare lessons than it did before,” Kulas said. “There is no room for improvisation. . . . Everything has to be prepared from A to Z because it’s going to be online, it’s recorded, it’s livestreamed.” 

Overall, though, teaching remotely is its own world of experiences, and can ultimately be effective in its own way.

“Of course I miss being in the building, but I feel really fulfilled working with my classes this year,” Riemer shared. “I’m enjoying the challenge, and I’m enjoying my groups of students, and I’m grateful.”