New Loy Norrix teachers face the obstacles of online learning

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Credit: D.J. Desmond

D.J. Desmond presents for his 4th period Literature Through Film class.

Milo Turner, Instagram Editor

For the duration of the first and second trimester, KPS students have been practicing completely remote learning, which means KPS teachers had to re-work their previously in-person lessons to fit the new medium.

Over the course of 2020, there was a rise in teachers leaving their jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis, which led to an influx of new teachers in school districts across the nation. 

According to CNBC, a 2020 survey revealed that 60% of educators enjoyed their job much less and 27% were considering quitting altogether due to the outbreak. 

On Sept. 1, 2020, Loy Norrix students and teachers attended the first full day of online class. For some this had been the first experience with teaching online, the first time teaching at Loy Norrix or the first year teaching a class generally, which posed new challenges. 

Three teachers new to Loy Norrix described the physical disconnect between students and teachers as a primary struggle they had faced this year so far. 

Lewis Ezekiel, who teaches Current Events as well as economics this year, explained, “I really enjoy the social aspect of teaching. I miss being in a room face to face with students, moving around, and teaching the kinds of lessons that I can only do with a room full of students.”

Literature through Film and Novels of Choice teacher, D.J. Desmond, has had a similar experience with teaching through a computer screen, as well. 

“The biggest for me is how hard it is to individualize instruction,” said Desmond, “In the classroom, I can explain something more generally so that most of the class understands, but there are some students who may not understand my explanation and need it explained in another way. It’s almost impossible to tell who is lost and who is understanding.”

A more obvious downside of teaching online is the eye strain that individuals experience while reading from or working on a computer screen for extended periods of time. 

An article from Harvard Health Publishing explores the danger of “computer vision syndrome,” a condition characterized by dry eyes and strained eye muscles due to the decrease in blinking that occurs when using a desktop or laptop computer. 

McKenzie Roman is new to Loy Norrix and teaches world history and expressed that this is a challenge and concern of hers. 

“Sitting in front of the screen all day hurts my eyes and my back, and I also miss seeing people face to face,” Roman said. 

However, teachers have still been finding ways to enjoy teaching, even when conditions are far from choice. 

Desmond said that the best thing about teaching this year has been getting to know students. 

Every student is their own person with their own experiences, interests, and learning styles,” Desmond elaborated, “For some, this online format has proven to lift some social pressures. For others, the online format is worse than Dolores Umbridge. Either way, I have come to enjoy every day of classes because of the students.”

Roman had similar thoughts, saying that her favorite aspect was interacting with amazing students.

“The students here at Loy Norrix, they are bright, inquisitive and fun. I enjoy teaching them.”

Ezekiel has observed that students have still been able to become engaged during online lessons. “My favorite part of teaching is watching students enjoy learning something new, especially through a simulation or other experiential learning activity,” Ezekiel said.

Remote learning inhibits the social aspects of class projects as well as the element of hands-on learning, but teachers have still been able to compensate through student-made presentations, group projects that can be conducted by email, and in-class discussions where students are encouraged to unmute their microphones and give their thoughts on the content at hand. 

Online classes have been an inevitability since March of 2020, and new teachers have been using the situation as an opportunity to learn more about technology and explore new teaching tools and resources. 

Despite the drawbacks, teachers are doing what they can and finding ways to enjoy it through the experiences of students as well.