September 2020 Volume 7, Issue 1
With the start of the new school year, teachers and professors around the world have been scrambling to find solutions for teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. With safety on every school’s mind, the new way of teaching has students staying at home for learning.
Most students have been focused on how they’re going to adjust to their new schedules, but what about the educators?
To get a perspective of how teachers are doing with the new conditions, I interviewed three professors at SVCC about how they’re handling the stress of teaching under new circumstances.
Audrey Smith is a psychology professor at Sauk who’s been staying hopeful during the global pandemic. When asked if she thought teaching would ever go back to normal, she commented, “I sure hope so!!! There is just something special about being in a classroom, but I am also concerned that virtual learning could become a new normal. Remote learning also may be cheaper and easier for a student to enroll”.
A question given to Smith asked if she thought learning from a distance would affect the way that students learn the information given to them. She explained how distractions at home and the attempt of multitasking would affect teaching, “We as humans think we can successfully multitask, which is simply not true. There is a sizable amount of research that shows multitasking successfully is an ideal we have, but in reality, we lose focus on one distraction.”
Professor Smith is not the only teacher at Sauk who has voiced their concern. Daniel Mc- Collum, a criminal justice professor and Title IX Coordinator for Sauk Valley Community College, has noticed a pattern in his live video classes, “One thing that's becoming apparent is that fewer questions are asked during live classes. Student questions often enhance the overall learning process, so we'll see how that goes.”
On a brighter note, Mr. McCollum shared a pleasant result of online learning, “Thus far, I have had perfect attendance in our virtual classes. That's rare in traditionally-delivered classes.”
So while students may not be asking as many questions, they are taking initiative and making sure they’re still participating in class calls. McCollum sees this pandemic as an opportunity to push creativity and give new life to his teaching style, to find ways to keep students interested and engaged. Even if everything was on track with remote learning, it’s not without its faults. Connor Williams is a mathematics professor at Sauk who’s missing the personal touch of in-class teaching, “I would like to just get to know my students more than I can right now. I'm not really sure what else I can do to have more conversations with them, but I want to get to know them more”. And when asked about the most difficult part of remote learning, he answered, “Being online and in a Google Meet session, it's very difficult to have a conversation with students as they come into class and leave class”.
Being isolated during class doesn’t just alter a student’s ability to learn; if learning isn’t easy to accomplish over a video camera, it isn’t any easier to make connections.