Distance Learning Update: The Teachers Perspective


Aamie Bertolosso, Staff Reporter

It was not a surprise to any of us that the beginning of this school year was definitely going to be difficult. Now that half of the first semester has gone by, have some of the teachers at Hughson High been able to get through that difficult patch and make things easier for themselves and their students?

As we are aware of, in the beginning of this school year, we had many technical difficulties regarding Zoom that made it harder for teachers to engage with their students and for students to be able to learn. Now that some time has gone by, Mr. Rickard, a biology teacher at Hughson High, says regarding this issue that, “Here and there, seems anything that can go wrong with technology eventually does.”

Although some problems with Zoom have been fixed, for some teachers it is still difficult to interact with students whether or not there are any technical issues. For example, Mr. Kroll, a world history teacher at Hughson High says, “ I am very comfortable with using Zoom but I don’t think I would ever get used to not having students in the room.  The thing that has struck me the most is the quiet; I miss the hustle and bustle of the students entering the room.  The good mornings and small talk with students as they enter;  I miss that the most.” 

Ms. McAndrews, a government, economics and US history teacher at Hughson High, also replied saying that, “No, I think it is getting worse.  Many students would keep their cameras on at the beginning of the year, and now, many don’t.  It’s hard that I don’t know who many of these kids are.  If I saw them at the gas station or at the store, I wouldn’t know them.  That is sad.”

Also, because teachers are having issues interacting with their students, it does not make it that much easier for them to not have students in their classroom. Mr. Rickard expressed that, “It’s easier, but definitely NOT better. I miss having students in class. I became a teacher not to sit behind a computer, but to connect with and hopefully somewhat inspire students to develop into productive members of our society.”

On the other hand, Ms. Brazil, a psychology, LOH, and U.S. history teacher at Hughson High, felt the exact opposite and said instead, “It definitely has not become easier to not have students in the classroom.  I miss them everyday!!”

To try and make things easier for themselves and their students, some teachers have created routines. Even though they have these routines, most of the teachers still say that it might make things easier, but not any less stressful. For example, Mr. Rickard said, “I think so, it should definitely be easier, I do not know if it is less stressful. The wear of the day to day being socially distant takes its toll on even the strongest of us. Humans aren’t evolved/designed to be so socially distant.”

To try and relieve the stress, some teachers have said that there are some routines that they want to start. Mr. Kroll said, “At the beginning of the year, I was going to mandate cameras be on for all students on Zoom.  I quickly abandoned this fight because so many kids had connectivity issues with Zoom.  As the semester went on it felt very isolating teaching to the 1-2 kids who had their cameras on while everyone else was an anonymous grey tile.  About a week or so ago I once again mandated that cameras must be on; I feel a greater sense of togetherness.  I allow them to only share the very top of their head if they want but I encourage them to show their whole face.  I just want to know you are there!  I also started an occasional mental health check in day; I shared with the students some of my struggles and gave them a chance to share some of their own.  I feel it is important for them to know that even their teachers are struggling with issues and students are not alone.”

To hopefully make things easier or less stressful for students, a few teachers wanted to give some helpful advice. The first teacher is Mr. Rickard and he said, “Lots of advice, but one thought to keep in mind. We can’t do distance learning forever. Grit your teeth, stay strong and get through to the other side.”

Next, Mr. Kroll expressed that, “My advice for students who may be struggling is to try to establish a routine.  I encouraged all my students the first week of school to set up a normal morning routine that mimics regular school; get up at the same time, shower, dress in something other than your pj’s, eat breakfast, brush teeth.  It is important to have routines that feel as close to the real deal as possible and it helps set our minds on the task at hand.  Just rolling from the bed to your desk chair 5 minutes before Zoom is not creating the right mindset.  I also encourage students to set small goals for improvement; small changes can eventually lead to big improvement.  I always tell students “be a better version of you then you were the day before.”  We all fall short and make mistakes but know that you are worth trying for!”

Then, Ms. Brazil said, “If you are struggling with distance learning, please reach out to your teachers.  We want to hear from you and are here to help.”

Distance Learning UpdateLastly, Ms. McAndrews wanted to say, “Keep showing up.  Keep on keeping on.  We can do hard things. We will get through this.  School is important for so many things besides education.  And I hope we can continue to persevere together.”