Students this, students that, How about teachers during virtual learning?

Juliana Flores, Social Media Editor

As students sit and stare at their computer agitated from their class, teachers are struggling behind the scenes. 

Throughout the seemingly never-ending era of virtual learning, students have been the main focal point of a multitude of news stories and studies. In light of this inequitable coverage, it leaves many wondering how teachers are feeling and coping with the virtual curriculum themselves. 

When sitting in class, students have a hard time turning on their cameras, leaving teachers to stare at black screens and lose that personal connection with their students. 

Ninth Grade:

The transition of students from middle school to high school has taken a toll on freshman teachers. Virtual instruction is complex regardless of grade level, but to transition and make students feel comfortable in a new environment complicates and puts immense pressure on the teaching process. 

Kristina Becht is the ninth-grade Algebra teacher at Da Vinci Communications (DVC). Alongside her, the rest of the ninth grade team has pushed through the hardships of transitioning and introducing the new students to DVC’s culture and ensuring the fact that they feel comfortable within this new environment. 

“It was really rough at the beginning of the year with all of those logistical and specific questions,” said Becht. The first semester, there was a lot of learning for teachers and adapting and trying to reflect on what was working and what wasn’t.” 

Students understand the difficulty of not being able to socialize with people. Feeling that sense of loneliness and not staying in contact with those around or close to them.

“I’m a very social person, and it’s been tough to adjust to not being with my students not being with my colleagues, and to be just at home,” said Becht. 

Tenth Grade:

When DVC was first advised to make the switch to virtual learning, the past freshmen, now sophomores, lost their first year of high school and the feeling of socializing. Now, that left them to adapt to a new year and new set of expectations. 

Adam Watson is the tenth-grade English teacher at DVC. When in class, the picture of black screens can leave the teacher feeling unheard and lonely despite the fact that they are attempting to teach. The tenth-grade team understands where students are coming from, with connection issues and Zoom fatigue. 

“I feel like I’m talking to the wall, there’s just no response at all,” said Watson. 

Although it can be tiring and cause that sense of isolation, teachers have found ways to ground themselves and put their mental health as one of their top priorities. It can range from stretching the body after a long day of being on Zoom or just taking a quick break from the bright screen. 

“Anytime I can, I do yoga in the morning, waking up earlier to do that because my wrists and my back may hurt from being at the computer for so long,” said Watson.

Eleventh Grade:

Juniors seem to be familiar with how DVC runs and the expectations from teachers, however, that doesn’t exactly mean it’s a passing year, but the eleventh-grade teachers have found how to manage and create a bond with their students. 

Ashley Hapner is the eleventh-grade English teacher at DVC. English alone is quite complex to teach, but virtually, it may complicate a teacher’s regular routine. Hapner has experienced hardships and triumphs while teaching her classes. She and other teachers understand the pandemic and virtual learning have affected both students and teachers.

“I think that would take a toll on anyone’s mental health, even if they are generally neurotypical,” said Hapner. “This is something that has affected our mental health and now we’re just needing to take the steps to strengthen, address it and make it better.”

Twelfth Grade:

Senior year is naturally one unforgettable and complicated year for both students and teachers. Seeing their students leave and mature into the world. Virtually, it can seem difficult to create a connection. 

Christopher Jackson is the twelfth-grade English teacher at DVC. This current school year, he transferred from teaching freshman English to senior English. He is familiar with his current class, having taught them their freshman year and building a connection. 

“I know them now the first time that I already knew the students so I didn’t have to build a lot of rapport,” said Jackson.

Although it may seem difficult to teach English virtually, he has adapted new techniques to keep his students away from a computer and to physically write.

“I’ve been intentional with assigning assignments where it doesn’t involve the computer,” said Jackson. “I need students to practice writing because it helps retention, it helps to learn whatever concept that they are learning.”

DVC teachers aren’t alone, they have support and encouragement from their principal and assistant principal. Andrew Daramola, the assistant principal at DVC, understands what struggles come from not being able to be face to face with DVC students. 

“DVC teachers have done a good job of just trying to make it all work, to be supportive for students, and to make sure that we are emphasizing that self-care is really important right now,” said Daramola. 

DVC teachers are no different from students, they too, experience difficult days. It’s hard to take a teacher’s feelings into consideration when students are living through the same misfortunes. 

Take the time at the end of class to thank your teacher, or even have a quick check-in with them. Everyone is facing hardships during this time, but it is nice to see how someone is dealing with virtual time. 

“I’m thankful for the skills that I have now because of online teaching to bring back into the classroom when we do return,” said Jackson.