Considering teachers’ perspectives on remote learning

By Melody Cosgrove and Natalie Foote

Despite the Beaverton School District’s frequent emails detailing what Phase 3 may look like, many families remain confused. Students may have received cryptic emails from teachers about assignments that seem contradictory to what the district has said, or others may have only received a quick check-in email with no concrete details. In this chaotic time, teachers may seem like the ideal scapegoat, but it’s important to try to understand their perspective. Students aren’t the only ones struggling with the changes.

Some teachers are finding it difficult to translate their classes onto a digital platform. Drama teacher Shannon Dery, for example, has struggled coming up with a way for online Acting and Theatre classes to resemble regular classes. Band, PE, and Art teachers have expressed similar concerns.

More so than others, these types of classes are hard to replicate online because one of the main values is the experiences these classes provide for students. While both a math teacher and an art teacher can assign instructional videos to their students, an art class loses a personality to it that a math class may not have. As Dery put it, “[Online learning] will never replace the kind of hands-on learning you get from actually doing work in a real classroom with real students and a real teacher.”

As is the case with most adults in this day and age, there will always be some less versed in technology than others. The same goes for teachers. In addition to translating classes, some teachers are finding the act of physically putting their classes online to be complex.

“I am not very techie, as my students know, and trying to troubleshoot tech issues from home is a steep learning curve,” commented Beaverton band director Mary Bengel. 

Teachers are doing their best. They are attempting to bring a real classroom experience to everyone’s home—a difficult task, to say the least. “Be gracious, be patient, allow us to make mistakes, give us some time to learn, and keep learning!” emphasizes chemistry teacher, Ms. Lee. 

But she is not the only one—several teachers discussed the importance of patience during this process above all else. “It will be clunky and imperfect…but so is life,” said math teacher Jason Sarmiento.

Overall, empathize with the hurdles that teachers need to jump through to bring education to students in a new setting. They are learning too, right alongside students. “My goal is to figure out one small thing at a time. Taken as a whole the task is daunting but in small pieces it is manageable,” said math teacher Peter Zaworski. 

Over the next couple of months, teachers and students will work together to overcome the flaws of this system. It won’t be easy for either group, but with patience and work ethic, students can come out of this prepared for next year. 

“At the end of the day, we are doing the best we can with the cards we are dealt. It isn’t an ideal situation for anyone. In a perfect world, we’d still be in the classroom,” said Sarmiento.

Photo by Natalie Foote. The sun sets over the Beaverton football field.

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