Obstacles of Online Learning for Teachers

Obstacles of Online Learning for Teachers

Shai Kim-Shapiro, Staff Writer

The transition to online learning has significantly altered the way classes are taught; different groups are affected by this in different ways. Teachers face a unique set of difficult obstacles. The first hurdle teachers face is simply utilizing technology. Teachers have had to learn an entirely new skillset in order to teach their class.

“The greatest difficulty in teaching online has been navigating the technology with any real facility,” Civics and Economics teacher Cristofer Wiley said “Although the interfaces are all intended to be intuitive, the clicks and boxes make it hard to maneuver anywhere close to the speed of thought.”     

This factor can seriously impact a teacher’s workload. Teachers have additional responsibilities that they’ve never dealt with before. Just having to transfer over assignments and navigate Canvas is quite laborious.

“It feels like a lot right now, in large part because we’re still figuring out how the heck to post things to Canvas and get them working,” AP Psychology David Wainwright said. “I’m assuming eventually we teachers will have a better general handle on Canvas and the workload, and the routine will feel more normal.” 

Additionally, much like students, teachers also can struggle with self-discipline during these trying circumstances.

“It can be harder to hold myself accountable, and the motivation can certainly be lacking, considering I have to sit in front of a computer, instead of interacting with students face to face,” Wainwright said.

In order to teach effectively, it’s important for teachers to be able to develop healthy rapport with their students, and this is something that can be seriously inhibited when teaching over Zoom.

“There’s not as much time for actual conversations,” Latin teacher Rachel Minton said. “And with the class being 45 minutes, there is less time for casual personal interactions, which I think is what helps students feel more comfortable and me feel more comfortable”     

While getting to know students if proving difficult, less conversation can lead to an increase in productivity.

“I don’t like this, but it is easier to get through more material because everyone’s quiet and there’s less distractions,” Minton said. “But I miss those distractions and people just chatting with me. So on one hand it is so far a bit more productive, but it’s missing a personal connection and I don’t actually like it.”. 

The arduous process of teaching during the pandemic has been somewhat mitigated by the readily available communication with the Reynolds administration. Although it’s difficult to ever be fully informed, the school has done their best in making sure teachers are as informed as they can be.

“The administration has been available to us as teachers and are generally great at communicating information our way,” Wiley said. “The fact is, however, that we all acknowledge that there are limits to the support they can extend our way under the circumstances.” 

The number one thing teachers want from students in these times is patience and understanding. Everyone is doing their best in these unique circumstances.

“Without exception, we’re all working outside of our comfort zones,” Wiley said. “All of us – students and teachers – are collectively better off if we understand the big picture and reject the tendency to think solely of ourselves.” 

Teachers are faced with a whole new set of hurdles in these times. Everyone has to deal with this situation, so it’s important that teachers and students alike recognize that everything in these times will take a little more effort and that everyone is just doing their best.