Graphic by Lucy Dockter '23
The weekend of Oct. 17 I received an unsettling email from my math teacher. She informed us her son had been exposed to COVID-19 and had to quarantine for two weeks at home. Reading on, I learned she would be required to quarantine with him and, as a result, would be teaching our class fully remote.
During the summer, when the Board of Education held open meetings about return to school options, parents had concerns that teachers could not be as effective teaching from their homes. However, my experiences rebut that idea: learning is not compromised when a teacher continues instruction remotely.
Teachers go remote for multiple reasons, often related to health concerns. Sometimes this is because they or someone in their family is at high risk for complications, or, like my math teacher, they may be “forced” into remote teaching due to COVID-19 exposure. Heading into the winter months, remote teaching may become more common as cases continue to rise. Whatever the initial reason, the impact on learning is nothing to fear, as teamwork among the staff and the professionalism of our teachers allows things to run smoothly.
Then my math teacher was quarantined at home for two weeks, our class was assigned an in-person substitute who assisted the remote teacher by setting up Zoom for the in-person students. The lesson ran smoothly as my teacher could hear all the kids in the room through the class microphone. This gave her the ability to answer questions and show us how she progressed through the problems because of the screen sharing feature.
This is not to say that improvements can’t be made for students present in the classroom when their teacher is remote. I felt somewhat disconnected from the lesson since the cameras in the room face the SmartBoards, which meant my teacher could hear me but not see me. One solution for this is to allow the students in class to log in to the class Zoom on their personal devices. This would allow the teacher to see all of the students’ faces and help keep them engaged during the lesson. Uniformity in learning platforms helps contribute to effective teaching and learning.
Teaching from home does not lessen the importance of professionalism. Just like on remote Wednesdays, teachers need to be in a well lit, distraction free zone when teaching from home, just as students are expected to do when they are present online. Timers need to be maintained so class doesn’t run over and Wi-Fi needs to be strong so connection is not lost. One tweak that would also help is to have personalized, or by-appointment office hours for extra help. If these standards are upheld remotely, there is limited educational loss.
With the minimal changes that would need to be made for a teacher to teach remotely and the responsibility to do so in a professional manner, teachers should be allowed to continue their jobs remotely since no instructional sacrifices on the students behalf are being made.