Teachers struggle managing both remote and in-person classes

It has been a few months since AT went back to in-person learning, but it doesn’t seem like remote learning is going to go away completely. In the past months, there have been cases of students being exposed to Covid, which required them to stay home until they received a negative test result. 

This meant both students and teachers had to adjust accordingly. Teachers are doing their best to adjust their courses to make them accessible to students who cannot attend class in-person, while also keeping in mind the health of the students. 

Social studies teacher Christina Trapani shared her experience with working with students who had to stay home. 

“The health of the student is the number one priority, so the teacher works with the student to find the best way to allow the student to engage in lessons if they are able to do so.  This could mean that the student attends class via Zoom, meets with a teacher at a specific time remotely, or communicates with the teacher through email, classroom daily schedules, or Google Classroom,” explained Trapani.

The experience teachers earned during a year of remote learning allowed most to stay prepared for situations like these. A lot of teachers who had to find ways to digitalize their courses kept a lot of material on computers even after coming back to in-person learning. 

“Teaching remotely last year made us all adapt the way that we teach and learn. I think that it forced me to make my classes even more accessible to all students, whether they are in-person or remote. 

“I actually kept a lot of the changes that I made while we were remote learning, I rely a lot on Google Classroom and my student schedule.  It has everything that we are doing that day in class, but is accessible to students who are unable to attend class,” said Trapani. 

While teachers do everything they can to make the experience easier for students, remote learning does affect their everyday work. It is especially tough for teachers whose teaching relies a lot on constantly checking students’ work to make sure they are understanding the material and do not need additional help. 

Math teacher Itzel Carranza shared about some limitations of teaching remotely, while teaching an in-person class. 

“I only had to connect synchronously twice, but it is hard because while I’m teaching I have to stay sitting, so I’m near the screen for the person that’s on Zoom. I have to check the chat and how they’re communicating, while also paying attention to the students that are in class,” she said.

This limitation may not affect all teachers equally, but it does play quite a big role when it comes to math. While teaching math, teachers spend a lot of time walking around classrooms to check students’ work and explain what they may be doing wrong if they require help.

Both Trapani and Carranza expressed that the role of technology right now is crucial and makes it easier for teachers and students to keep in touch about any assignments or lessons. 

As always, the needs of every student are different, so some students did not experience any difficulties while learning remotely. “One student was completely fine, did everything on their own, and didn’t really ask for help because they didn’t need it,” said Carranza.

A lot of students who do quarantine at home choose not to join a Zoom call when the class is happening. Instead, they usually communicate with their teachers to work out a time when teachers can talk to students individually and help them with anything they may need. 

“Most students chose not to connect synchronously during class. One student did, but they did it only twice and they chose to kind of do things on their own using Google Classroom. I would give up my lunch period to help them,” shared Carranza.

“The majority of them (students) came in for help as soon as they came back, so they didn’t really ask too many questions, while they were at home. I think they were following along and then when they came back in-person, they came in for help,” she added.

Most teachers always try to accommodate students as best as they can, but another thing that makes the process difficult is the uncertainty following new Covid cases. 

“Let’s say today we get an email saying, ‘Hey, it’s just a general notice that someone has Covid.’ We kind of want to know is it one person? 

“Is it like ten students? We want to see what’s happening with the numbers,” expressed Carranza.

With teachers doing so much and putting a lot of focus on making sure they help their students to the best of their abilities, they should at the very least be able to know what is going on with the number of cases. 

The last two years have certainly shown that we have to be prepared for anything. Although teachers have noticed a much higher engagement from students during in-person classes and the majority seems to prefer the connections formed in-person, students and teachers need to be prepared for a scenario of AT going back to remote learning.

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