Teachers plunge into the world of remote learning


Mr. Michael Cermak instructs Graphic Design students during his office hours.

   It is no new news the effects COVID-19 has had on the world. Worldwide, a total of 1.13 million people have died from the disease, forcing people to stay indoors and take safety precautions to prevent contracting the virus. Even with these circumstances, schooling still goes on through remote and in person. In-person learning, other than the new decisions made to keep the students safe, has not seen a lot of changes. Remote learning, on the other hand, is new to most students. Even after it was used near the end of last school year, there are still new things and new struggles that teachers have to account for. 

   “Motivation is a key factor in successful education,” said Ms. Jeanie Sullivan, Health Academy teacher. “Students need to be self-motivated for sure in remote learning. If you connect with students, they tend to be more motivated. Since connection between teacher and student is harder, it affects motivation.”

   Student motivation is one of the biggest issues with remote learning. From the comfort of their home, it can be hard to crawl out of bed and complete assignments for the day, especially with all the distractions at home. Motivation also comes hand-in-hand with a connection between students and constant engagement with the classes. With remote learning, it is harder for students, especially for the freshman class, to have a connection with their teachers and in some cases affecting their motivation to learn.   

   “I believe that technology has helped get the content across to students in different ways,” said  Service Academy teacher Mr. Aaron Lewandowski. “ It is tough to replace face-to-face interactions, but there are a lot of resources out there on the internet that do a good job of providing learning experiences and feedback to the students.”

   Some teachers do try their best to combat the lack of engagement and motivation to learn by using fun and interactive activities to help teach their students that in-person students would not have access to. Although the experiences that students have with remote learning are not always as fun and memorable as the normal pre-COVID learning, there are many different resources available for both students and teachers alike to make the school year engaging.

   “This is an entirely new world for all of us, and we’ve never been so reliant on technology,” said Mr. Clark Fabert-Church, Health Academy teacher. “Therefore, I think we’re doing well.  Yes, there have been bad internet connections for various reasons, including one brief district-wide outage, but overall, the system has worked well.  In terms of websites crashing, I don’t think most companies who provide services to school districts were prepared for the level of traffic the pandemic necessitated. This is particularly true since so many districts have converted to a completely digital format. Hopefully, everyone is patient with the tech, but more importantly with one another as we all transition to this new way of learning and living.”

   Technology does have some issues. Internet connections can go down, Chromebooks are not always charged, and Google Meets or Zoom Calls are not working. These are many issues that remote learners and teachers alike have to face. Sometimes the number of learning platforms can be overwhelming for some students as well. Schoology, Canvas, and Google Classroom are the three platforms that teachers use to house their classes with each having their own features and problems for students to face. Bad internet connection is the biggest dilemma that affects remote learning by far. Internet blackouts and website crashes, even in 2020, are still common and could last from mere seconds to hours at a time. 

   Even with these issues, the Rockford Public School District does its best to provide the most beneficial education for all of its students.

   Despite the struggles and uncertainty that lie ahead in 2020; teachers all across from the district to the entire United States are working hard to provide their students with the best and informative education possible. In the future, the public can look back at the strength and bravery our teachers exhibited to provide students with the education they need to succeed in life. 

   “All teachers are giving everything they’ve got to make sure all students are successful,” said Ms. Sullivan. “There are always things I could learn on or improve next time.  But that is every year of teaching!”