Teaching from home has its challenges for OH teachers

Olympic+Heights+art+teacher+Ms.+Chrisanthy+Vargo+%28left%29+and+science+teacher+Mr.+Lachlan+MacKay+%28right%29+at+their+home+teaching+stations.+

Olympic Heights art teacher Ms. Chrisanthy Vargo (left) and science teacher Mr. Lachlan MacKay (right) at their home teaching stations.

With the sudden change from physical school to online school due to COVID-19, students have been adjusting themselves to a new work environment and daily routine. However, it is not only the students who are feeling the effects of these changes.

Teachers have had to adjust to teaching a set of teenagers without being able to see them in person. How Olympic Heights teachers feel about the change vary from relief to having difficulty processing and adjusting to the new work life. 

Ms. Vargo can sometimes be “overwhelmed” by the demands of remote teaching.

OH art teacher Ms. Chrisanthy Vargo expresses how having to teach from home has had a positive effect on her situation by explaining, “I was relieved because my Mom was here for the season and she has Leukemia. I was afraid I would bring COVID-19 home to her.”

Vargo’s fear is a very legitimate one for those with older family members at home or nearby. School being cancelled was a precaution that helped Vargo and others in situations similar to hers feel more at ease about her family and the risk factors.

For other OH teachers, the transition to online distance learning has come with some difficulties. “It was difficult. I am still trying to figure out what works best for me and all my students,” math teacher Ms. Elyse Silverman explains. “All families have different situations, and having to try and work around what is best for each one of them” has been difficult.

Many subjects require a very attentive and personal learning style in order to fully grasp the concepts they are being taught. Not being able to adjust to those learning styles over the internet as easily as they can in face-to-face teaching is not only detrimental for the student, but also a hardship for the teacher.

Despite the hardships, teachers generally agree that closing schools was the right decision.Mr. “I thought that it was a good idea for the school board to make that decision since the virus was easily spreading and students,” science teacher Mr. Lachlan MacKay said. “Teachers and school staff are all working in [too] close proximity to one another.” Obviously, with the commencement of online learning and social distancing practices, everyone is at a lower risk of infection.

There have also been struggles for teachers when it comes to instructing and enforcing good work ethic. MacKay says that his struggle is making sure that “all of my students check into Google Classroom on a daily basis during a school week.” MacKay adds that he has noticed that “many of my assignments are being turned in at 1:00 to 3:00 am in the morning.” The new at home learning clearly has made its impact on students and how they are managing time. 

Vargo is also dealing with some issues with online teaching. “I have 230 students, so there is a lot of work to review each day,” Vargo explains. “I am used to roaming the classroom to look at artwork. There is a lot of mouse clicking involved. The most frustrating thing is students not handing in work.” 

Teachers have also been understanding of students’ varying situations at home which may compromise their learning. Silverman says, “All families have different situations and having to try and work around what is best for each one of them.” Some houses share one laptop, require their children to do more chores around normal “school time”, or have WiFi and data issues that further compromise the efficiency of online distance learning. 

And how do students seem to be doing academically in their classes now compared to before? “A few students are thriving and doing amazing art,” Vargo reports. “It seems that most students are doing the same. I know their work by now, so I can tell if they are working hard.”

It seems to vary by student and subject, so the results are scattered. “I see that many students seem to be doing much better as long as they keep up a regular school day routine and sign into their google classroom and complete the assignments by the due date,” MacKay explains. For many, completing the work for a subject they thrive in is easier at home on their own time due to more resources and a more comfortable environment. The dreaded idea of starting school by 7:30 A.M. is also no longer necessary.

While online distance learning may vary from a relief to a weight on teachers’ and students’ shoulders, most everyone appears to be tolerant and understanding of one another. The OH family seems to have come together to help one another through this confusing time.

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