Teaching made even tougher over Zoom

By Yana Sergiyenko, Eagle Eye Staff Writer

Motivation has been a struggle during distance learning for teachers and students in El Camino because of the barriers created by the pandemic. 

One of the adjustments that online learning has caused is the ability to be motivated to attend online classes. By the time students return to the regular school format, it will be more than a year since EC students have last been on campus. Not having certain responsibilities to get to school on time, be present in the classroom and interact with others doesn’t make it easier to study or teach. 

Band Teacher Gabriel Read cited the struggle of students not being motivated to do school work. 

“It’s so difficult to make yourself do things when you don’t have to get up and go anywhere to do them anymore. You wake up and you go to school three feet away from where you went to sleep,” Read noted in a recent virtual interview.

Research resources online mirror Read’s claim. According to Tina Antill Keener, an assistant professor in the West Virginia University School of Nursing, having a dedicated workspace increases the productivity of study performance.  

Oftentimes, students don’t have an opportunity to have a proper workspace at home and have to share it with other family members. While teachers have classrooms as their workspace, students face distractions at home and often can’t escape. 

Based on the statistics from Vice Principal Evelyn Welborn, student performance at EC on the DFI (D, F letter grades and I—incomplete) rate has increased 9% compared to last year before the quarantine. 

Not only are the hands-on classes having trouble with online education, but the classes that are heavy on theory and facts are lacking the ability to have class discussions off the screen.

Seas of black squares during the online class meetings, instead of students’ faces, have been taking control of the mental state of Jayashree Narayanan, Integrated Math II teacher. Students aren’t feeling obligated to turn their cameras on to prove their presence. Technically, students attend the class meetings but don’t engage in the activities, which makes it even harder for the teachers to check if students are staying focused. 

“I can teach and explain just how I’d do it in a classroom, but because I cannot see all of the students, I just feel like I still don’t know some of the kids, which makes me unhappy,” Narayanan said.

However, teachers are also concerned with students’ mental health throughout the quarantine, because they need social interactions in order to grow and develop a strong mindset. 

Elizabeth Sansone, English teacher and yearbook advisor, is worried about the hardships in socialization that the students go through during distance learning.

“I’m in a very different part of my life, where I don’t need that. Teens need social connections, they’re built for it and it’s part of their development right now,” Sansone said.

Teachers are also worried about students who are too shy or afraid to share their problems. In person, teachers can help them speak up by approaching them one-on-one and asking about what’s going on.

Spending time teaching at home, made teachers come up with ways to adjust to their new lifestyle and helped many change their perspective on life in a positive way too. 

“I do see silver linings but it’s going to be hard going back to being as busy as we were because I’m enjoying my family time,” Sansone shared.

Despite the fact that the teachers aren’t professional mental health counselors, they can help and listen to the students, who are going through a hard time. They also suggest that it’s important to remember that living in the pandemic won’t last forever and to be grateful for living like this, instead of wishing for anything better in order to survive distance learning.

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