Teaching from home provides both challenge and flexibility

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Nate Charles

The Journalistic Writing class works with Ms. Joseph online.

Because of Covid-19, a lot has changed about Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Teachers have had to adapt to teaching to students in-person and online simultaneously, but some teachers have had to learn to teach outside of the classroom as well.

Tanner Stevens, who teaches physics, has been out of school three separate times this year. ”The first time I was out at the end of September was about a week… the second was the start of the quarter,” Stevens said.

Teachers have to follow the same protocols as the Benilde-St. Margaret’s students, which means even if the teacher does not have symptoms if they have close contact they are mandated to the two week quarantine. “On Halloween, we met up with my daughter’s godmother, a student at the U of M. It turns out she tested positive [for] COVID. Because we had a potential exposure, we needed to quarantine for at least two weeks since the exposure,” Stevens said.

Overall, teaching the class is not more difficult online than in person; however, certain activities like science labs and other demonstrations are very difficult while online. “I always find [teaching online] more challenging than in the classroom because you have these tiny little pictures of everyone in the room,” social studies teacher Cherie Vroman said.

Another difficulty is that many teachers are also parents and juggling their kids while simultaneously teaching. “I want to be there for [the students] but I also feel like I have to be there as a dad,” Stevens said.

The way I do notes at home is different than at school; maybe I don’t ask as many of those back and forth questions… maybe at home the back and forth is challenging”

— Tanner Stevens

Potentially the most difficult thing is grading at home. It is already quite difficult to find time to grade and when at school teachers can use their free period; however, while at home teachers find themself being busy with other things. “I feel like I should be doing these other house things at home rather than grading,” Stevens said.

The class dynamic also changes slightly when the teacher is outside of the classroom. Teachers feel online students actively participate less than in person, but teachers have noticed that their teaching style may have changed. “The way I do notes at home is different than at school; maybe I don’t ask as many of those back and forth questions… maybe at home the back and forth is challenging,” Stevens said.

Teaching from home has also made it harder for teachers to gauge student comprehension. Since when the teacher is at home they can not see the students faces directly it makes it hard to tell if the students understand the material. “When I was home teaching for those four days [to her students] you are kind of in the dark when people go into breakout rooms and [for] the kids in the classroom, you have no idea how it is going,” Vroman said.