Teacher’s handling of B&M versus Distance learning
Four views from four teachers
By Emma Jabbour
This year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, school looks a little different. Students were given the option to come to school, to distance learn from home with Ponte Vedra High School, or to sign up for Florida Virtual classes and homeschool. There are about 300 students from PVHS doing online school, leaving teachers with two different sets of students. Distance learners can log into a conference call during their class period time and watch their class be livestreamed. Having to divide attention with a whole classroom of students, along with a few students at home has already proved to be quite a challenge for most teachers.
Kaitlyn Parker is a Chemistry Honors and Marine Science Honors teacher; currently in her third year of teaching at PVHS. Ms. Parker says that it has been hard giving equal attention to all students, she is trying to maintain a level of equality, however she knows that virtual students are not getting the same amount of attention. She says, “I know it is unfair, but I do not know of a way to help with balancing out the inequality. By this I mean, in-class I am able to gauge students when they are struggling with the content/material, but with distance learners I am having a harder time gauging when they need clarification.” In her opinion, in-school students are getting a more quality education, going back to her inability to gauge when students are really struggling to grasp a new concept. Like most teachers and students, Ms. Parker wishes that we could all be in class with each other because she always enjoys meeting students and developing relationships with them in class. She has been using Schoology Conferencing which has been working well for her so far, but there is always a learning curve for teachers.
“I know it is unfair, but I do not know of a way to help with balancing out the inequality.”Ms. Parker
Linda Green is an Algebra 2 Honors and Liberal Arts Math 2 teacher and is in her fourth year of teaching at PVHS. So far, teaching virtual students as well has been very challenging for Ms. Green because her technology has been spotty and slow. She loves the challenge but having so many things to keep track of has caused her to forget and lose track of certain things. Ms. Green says it’s been extremely difficult to divide her time and she definitely thinks that her brick and mortar students are getting a more quality learning experience. She says, “I am trying extremely hard to give all my kids equal access to the information. I’m recording my lessons and posting all the information to Schoology. Now, whether my distance learner students are self-disciplined/motivated enough to use it and take advantage of it is a different story.” She feels that it has been hard giving equal attention to all students, the participation of distance learners is not as good, even though they are joining class, it is still hard to measure their progress virtually. Ms. Green says that the hardest part so far has been stopping and starting conferences every period and making sure the technology is working. She started out using Schoology conferencing but switched over to Zoom which she says is much more user friendly, with higher camera and sound quality. Although she wishes all her students were in class with her, she completely understands why parents would want to keep their children home and is looking forward to a great year with all her students.
Katilyn Collazo is an AP Art History and AP U.S. History teacher at PVHS. She has been teaching at PVHS since it opened 13 years ago. Ms. Collazo thinks that online learning has been going okay because she is able to give equal attention to all of her students. Although she thinks that in school students are generally more comfortable asking questions, she is still able to split up her time and give everyone equal time and attention. Ms. Collazo has been live streaming all her lectures, technology glitches have made class run a little less smooth but having to divide her time has not been too hard. Even though she can divide her time equally and give everyone attention, she still thinks that in school students are always getting a more quality learning experience, it is also more fun for in school kids. As a teacher, Ms. Collazo says that technology has been the most challenging part so far, “I wish that all distance learners had webcams and microphones before being allowed to stay home. Some students have desktop computers that don’t have either and it makes certain things more difficult.” She has been using Schoology Conferencing because that is what the district wanted, besides her camera angles always being off, she has not had too many challenges with it. Ms. Collazo wishes that all of her students could be in class with her but completely understands the situation and is sympathetic with families making that decision.
Laura Turner is a Spanish 1 and Spanish 3 Honors teacher, she is currently in her third year of teaching at PVHS. Ms. Turner says that teaching distance learners and in school students has been exhausting because she has so much to do. Having to make sure all her technology is working, taking temperatures, making sure everyone can hear and see, and answering questions has been a lot of work. Ms. Turner likes to walk around the class to make sure everyone is understanding and to ask questions, but that makes it harder to check in with the chat and make sure everyone at home is understanding. She says that it has been hard dividing her time and she definitely cannot give equal attention to all learners. She says, “It’s just impossible to be both places at once and to do both well.”Ms. Turner thinks that in school students are generally getting a more quality learning experience, however, there are some students that really excel in an online environment. For Ms. Turner, the most challenging part so far has been not having enough time to get everything done because everything must be changed to a digital copy for the distance learners. Ms. Turner enjoyed teaching remotely for the fourth quarter of last year but could not envision herself doing that full time because she missed her students so much. She wishes that we could all be together in school. She has been using Schoology conferencing like most teachers, it has been working well for her besides the occasional technology issues. Although there has been a lot of bumps in the road this school year, Ms. Turner is happy to be back in the classroom and is excited for a great year!
Although this school year is very different from others, all our teachers are doing their best to provide the best experience for all students. Even with live conferences, it has still been hard for distance learners to be given as much attention from their teachers as brick and mortar students. It has been much more difficult for teachers to engage their students in class and monitor their progress. Hopefully as the year progresses, technology will be running smoother and teachers and students can better adjust to this new normal.