Distance learning: a curve for teachers, too

SHS faculty adjusts to online teaching

Landen Munns, Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken our society like nothing before. Many places have been required to shut down, including CCSD school buildings, forcing our whole education system to adapt to a new type of learning. 

Distance learning has been a big change for not only students, but for teachers as well. They have had the challenges of learning to navigate a whole new platform, changing their curriculum, and much more. 

Some teachers, such as graphic design teacher Richard Dunn, are “adapting to online learning almost seamlessly.” 

“I’ve used Canvas for five years now, and structure my normal class to allow me to be a facilitator rather than a lecturer,” Dunn explained.  “Not much different in the virtual setting, other than the silence.”

For other teachers, adapting to online learning has been a bit harder. Many teachers are still learning how to use our learning management system, Canvas. 

“It’s a ton more work to prepare lessons [online] than it is to prepare them for in person,” English teacher Meghan Lamb said. 

While converting lessons to Canvas is time-consuming and required extra professional development at the beginning of the school year, there are advantages. Some teachers are finding it easier to grade online. 

The speed grader in Canvas is actually really good, and I am surprised that it is easier to grade online assignments,” chemistry teacher Stephanie Wiegand said. 

Collectively, teachers mostly agree that a major challenge is not being able to interact with their students.  Teaching online takes quite a toll on teachers. It is hard to stare at a screen all day and just see students’ initials since most don’t use their cameras during class.

It is also hard for teachers to tell if students are struggling. Students rarely unmute to talk. Most don’t communicate with their teachers out of the classroom, and the only way teachers can tell if they are struggling is by their grades.

Academic dishonesty is another huge problem for teachers. Students are cheating on a lot of their assignments and tests, so teachers are having to come up with ways to prevent it. 

“Using several test banks to create assessments so there are many different versions,” is one method math teacher Patrice Carder has tried, but she admits, “I cannot combat all the academic dishonesty. I just hope students are being honest to themselves and to their education.”

Teachers are looking forward to being able to see their students again when in-person learning resumes, and many teachers want to at least transfer to a hybrid schedule next semester. But first, teachers want to have adequate personal protective equipment, social distancing measures, a good schedule, and a plan from the district before they return to school. Teachers recognize how hard it will be to get enough social distancing in classrooms with our class sizes.

Although distance learning is in no way easy, teachers are adapting. As time goes on, it is starting to get easier for most teachers. If teachers and students work together, we will all be able to get through this until we make a safe return to regular school.