Teachers’ Perspectives on Online Teaching

A+sample+online+course+load+for+a+THS+student.

Rafael Gutierrez

A sample online course load for a THS student.

Rafael Gutierrez, Staff Writer

TELLURIDE — Some students of Telluride High School might enjoy online schooling, but the teachers have a very different opinion on the matter.

Marion Proud, THS English teacher, said in an email interview that she misses the contact.

“For me, the greatest loss in online teaching is reduced contact with students and colleagues. Most teachers enjoy teaching for the daily opportunities to interact with students, in both academic work and the out-and-about-in-the-halls moments,” said Proud. “With online learning we see only the students in our classes and the digital nature of Zoom makes class time much more teacher-directed and much less collaborative.”

Proud also pointed out that an issue with online teaching is that it is inequitable. 

“A significant challenge in online learning is making sure that all of our students have access to their education. Access to reliable devices suitable for doing schoolwork, access to reliable internet connections, access to a quiet, dedicated, organized place to learn and do schoolwork, access to academic and organizational support are all critical to success. With the suddenness of our change to online learning, it has been difficult to make sure all in our learning community have access to these resources,” said Proud, adding that she thinks the school has done a tremendous job of making learning accessible to all.

THS Athletic Director and Dean of Student, Chris Murray, has been doing just this.  He said through email that he is doing his best to assist the students who have internet problems by checking in on them and bringing/receiving assignments from them so they won’t fall behind.

“My routine has changed a lot because it has been really hard to establish one,” said Murray. “The biggest difference is being a Father to a 9-month-old son all day long, while trying to stay on top of work.”

Wayne Clark, THS history teacher, agrees that online teaching has been challenging, but also acknowledges that Telluride School District is doing its best.

“I think that this change, which again very few of us have experience with, makes it difficult to learn to the same level as we did in school. I think our students and staff are doing extremely well, and from what I have seen in other districts, we are doing a very good job in comparison,” Clark said in an email interview. “Although we may not be learning as much, we are still learning, and I think that is the most important part of this situation.”

One of the challenges that teachers have to face now is implementing a new routine into their schedule, and trying to replace their old one, all the while finding normalcy.

THS principal, Sara Kimble, said she still gets up at the same time as before, but instead of going to the school in the morning, she gets ready to check in on Schoology, the online platform THS students and teachers use in order to continue education.  

Most THS teachers Zoom with their students at least once a week, if not more. There is, however, one class that is unable to use the Zoom platform effectively and is suffering from this new change.

Art class, in all forms, is suffering due to this change. The most effective way that that art can be taught is with a studio equipped with necessary supplies, but now not all students have these things at their disposal.

THS art teacher, Jennifer Morgan, said in an email interview that she is trying to assign her students assignments that they can complete at home.

Brittney Picard, THS special education teacher, is also adjusting to this new change. Her program is more effective in person than online, but said everyone is trying to adjust to the new format. Each of Picard’s students is paired with a paraprofessional to assist him/her with schoolwork, but because of this new change, they’ve had to adjust to meeting online instead of in person, she said via email.

One of the major challenges that both students and teachers have had to face isn’t schoolwork, but it is affecting their schoolwork. The challenge is that many people  are worried about their own health, and the health of their friends and family members. People are stressed and anxious due to this new change, especially because being sick, could potentially become fatal.

“Our concerns about our own health and that of our families, friends, and community make this a very difficult time to focus,” Proud said, pointing out that one of the groups impacted greatly by these uncertain times is the THS seniors.

“I think these fears fall most heavily on seniors who have been preparing to move on to the next stages of their lives,” Proud said in an email interview. “This is a very uncertain time to be taking big steps towards greater independence and new adventures.”

All-in-all, even though this last quarter of school hasn’t been ideal, TSD is making the best of the situation.

THS history teacher, Kelly Boykin, put it succinctly when she highlighted the difference between online and classroom teaching.

“The energy,” said Boykin. “Talking to a computer in a Zoom class is not the same.”