How are teachers dealing with online learning?


Norio Kaneko

Algebra teacher Norio Kaneko shows us his set up for online teaching.

The classroom has been transported into a computer and faces have been replaced by black screens. All you hear is silence, unwanted background noises, the typing of your fingers, and the clicking of your mouse.

This school year has brought a multitude of challenges for students. We know that they have a variety of tasks to do such as attend their virtual classes, complete assignments, and study.

However, classes are being held by teachers, so what does online learning look like for them? 

This is how history/economics/government teacher Kathy Van Dusen first reacted to online learning: “Well, it wasn’t a good one… because I really like interacting with students. That’s why I became a teacher because I love learning and I love working with people so it’s a little different.”

What started as a two-week spring break resulted in seven months’ worth of virtual learning. This allowed for new concepts, strategies, and struggles to evolve. Getting ready for this school year meant receiving training and getting familiar with the software.

Van Dusen said, “I took some online teaching courses. I tried to get more familiar with Zoom. We had meetings, a lot of mandatory school meetings, and some professional development meetings.”

Now that school has started, teachers have had a new schedule which has been crammed with endless work.

“Well, instead of teaching 90 minutes, I’m teaching 60 minutes. We have a break, it’s not even a break! I’m actually working longer than ever before. Sometimes, I end up doing more non-teaching work than teaching,” said algebra teacher Norio Kaneko.

In addition to this, he mentions that one of the hardest things is managing time.

“You have like thousands of things you can do as a teacher, but you don’t have the time for. You just have to know which one is more important,” Kaneko said.

In regards to their teaching and planning for their classes, it seems that the situation can go both ways.

Kaneko said, “I’m going to teach the way I always teach…Teaching Algebra 2 is still teaching Algebra 2, it doesn’t change.” 

However, Van Dusen says that there is, “a lot of experimentation, to see what works.”

She said, “With students not having their cameras on it’s just kind of like the blind leading the blind, you just have to try it and wait to see what is produced.”

But there is more than what meets the eye– at the end of the day, our teachers are humans too. They are struggling just as much as we are.

“Definitely, there’s anxiety, I woke up early and started thinking ‘Ok how am I going to do this? How am I going to teach this? I’ve done this before but not this way.’ It’s not healthy for me to wake up at four in the morning and start thinking about it. It’s not healthy at all,” said Kaneko.

Amidst all the commotion and challenges, it seems that these two teachers have similar goals that keep them going.

Van Dusen said, “To do my best for the students, that would be my goal.” 

I guess I just make sure you guys learn something…I wanna look at myself and say, ‘Ok, I’m doing the best I can.’

— Norio Kaneko

To anyone that is having a hard time right now, Van Dusen reminds us to “Stay strong, stay focused, and stay grateful…always thinking about what we’re grateful for then we can have a positive attitude even though we are going through a difficult situation.”

Just know that our teachers are all going through the same thing that we are. We are in this together.