Teachers’ Takes on Distance Learning

Pynn Harinsuit '23, Contributor

Distance learning through Zoom has offered novel experiences for everyone: students, faculty, and staff alike. Without it, we would have been enjoying the warm, sunny weather and wrapping up our school year with our friends and teachers.
However, here we are, situated in our own homes, practicing social distancing, and only getting to see each other in 720p or in 1080p (for people with a better webcam).
This got me wondering. While we’re going bored-erline insane (ha) with such a lack of human contact, how are our teachers feeling about this situation? After all, distance learning is just as much a new experience for us as it is for teachers!
Mr. Winer, the director of our Wind Ensemble and Concert Band, said that he has mixed feelings about distance learning, but he has also had a lot of fun. Mr. Winer had been showing his students his music room at home.
“[I shared] with students my banished-to-the-basement music room with my instruments, my ‘superconductor’ troll dolls, my great collection of autographs [from] John Williams, Duke Ellington, Arthur Fiedler, Leonard Bernstein, Frederick Fennell, and for baseball fans: Jackie Robinson, and more,” said Mr. Winer.
Another funny experience that happened was that during one Chamber Music class, the power suddenly went out in Mr. Winer’s home and he couldn’t connect to Zoom for a while.
After disclosing such an experience, he cautioned me, saying, “don’t tell the deans!” (it’s too late now…) presumably since his words may become evidence that he had deeped his own class before — through no fault of his own, of course.
Mr. Winer added, “I mostly dislike distance learning because the nature of music is being together, which is not fully possible in an ensemble with distance learning. However, a positive is that it gives the teacher an opportunity to listen to each student individually when each submits an individual recording.”
Ms. Randall, an English teacher, says she really enjoys seeing her students’ pets through Zoom.
“I absolutely love seeing students’ pets, so whenever they come into a Zoom frame, I ask to be introduced to them. One of my students’ families has recently acquired chickens, so hearing about how that is going is always fun,” she remarked.
Imagine having a class on Zoom with everyone’s pets included! I’m sure soon enough, Zoom will implement a system for a virtual pet in your video, not unlike the virtual background feature they have now.
Mr. Cleary, a math teacher, said that he is learning a lot from distance learning, but that he also misses interacting with his students in person. Also, he has been very happy seeing how his students have embraced this experience and how they push each other to extend their learning.
Mr. Cleary has also had a couple of fun experiences. On his first time recording a class, he “sent the groups to the Breakout Rooms and then went about setting up the next slides for their return.”
Once he had figured the technology out, he “started cheering for [himself] and singing, We Are The Champions,” but forgot it was recording the whole time!
Needless to say, that video did not make it to the Resources section of the class portal. Truly a great loss for his class — nay, for humanity as a whole.
Although distance learning is new for all of us, facing funny and enjoyable situations that randomly pop up makes distance learning seem not so bad after all. I mean, we’ve survived for over half the term now, right? What could go wrong?