A Look Inside Mr. Dillin Randolph’s English Classroom


Andrea Espino

Photo of Mr. Dillin Randolph, English Teacher at Niles West.

By Andrea Espino, Staff Writer

Mr. Dillin Randolph is a freshman and sophomore honors English teacher at Niles West. He is an honest and genuine person who deeply cares about all of his students’ physical and mental health. He takes remote learning into his own hands and turns it into a positive, welcoming environment for all of his students to feel comfortable sharing their own opinions in discussions.

A normal day for Mr. Randolph goes as follows. He wakes up without an alarm and then does some self-care, such as creative writing, exercise, or playing video games. He then checks and answers all of his emails until his inbox is empty. Soon after, he goes onto Zoom to teach his freshman and sophomore honors English classes. In between classes, he either grades or plans for future lessons. At the end of the day, he does his best to complete any other work until it’s time to mentally “log off” for the day.

Since COVID has hit our country, Mr. Randolph’s life has changed but surprisingly for the better. He explains that he is one of the lucky ones and his life as a teacher has actually gotten easier with remote instruction. Mr. Randolph would usually be at Niles West between 10-12 hours a day depending on what activity or sport he was involved in doing with students after school. Now that he is at home, he can grade without interruptions at school. Since it’s only his wife at home and soon-to-be-son, most distractions have been minimized for him. Sadly, the other activities that he loved being a part of have been minimized as well.

Unlike some students and teachers, Mr. Randolph loves remote learning but not more than in-person instruction. He is the type of teacher that uses technology heavily in the classroom, so it was a seamless transition for him to begin teaching on Zoom. He has also taken many online courses in the past and modeled his instruction based on those experiences.

“Remote learning is set up almost on an A/B block schedule which I have taught in before. I’m usually used to only seeing my students every other day, but I am not used to teaching in only 50 minutes. Remote learning has also challenged me to think about going paperless whenever we are back in person,” Randolph said.

One of the benefits he sees with remote learning is that it does not require commuting. Teachers, students, and families will save time and money by not traveling back and forth from school. Self-paced education also works for multiple learning styles.

“Whether students are visual, kinesthetic, or independent learners, remote learning reduces stress and increases satisfaction, without the pressure of keeping up in the classroom setting,” Mr. Randolph said.

However, one of the negative aspects of remote learning is that student engagement can be an issue. Making sure students are engaged with teachers and classmates when they are on Zoom can be difficult. Also, sitting in the same spot all day on a device can be physically and emotionally taxing for both students and teachers.

Mr. Randolph has done his part to make the cons list of remote learning a little smaller for his students. He does this by not assigning homework on the weekend. Most of the homework he assigns is usually just the work that students didn’t finish in class or read a section of a book. He also cuts class short at times and he’ll plan a high-energy lesson that only takes 30-40 minutes instead of the full 50 minutes. He cuts the work down as much as possible for the sake of his students so they can grasp the information better.

“Allowing students adequate time to engage with and digest the content is very important to me. I don’t want to overload anyone,” Mr. Randolph said.

His students enjoy having him as a teacher because he tries to get to know everyone personally and makes class as fun as possible.

“He greets us all by name when we arrive on the zoom and he connects with us like we are peers. His classroom is a very friendly environment and he always wears a bow tie and dress shirt on Thursdays, known as “bow-tie Thursdays.” Occasionally, there are guest appearances from his cats Star Lord and Mojo JoJo,” sophomore Maggie Burns said.

Mr. Randolph’s classroom is repeatedly described as a welcoming place for all of his students and he doesn’t force his opinion, morals, or ideals onto his students but instead allows them to create their own. He encourages them to express their own opinions to their peers and get feedback on them.

“In the real world, many people will try to tell us that their opinion is wrong or invalid for a number of reasons and Mr. Randolph believes it’s his job to teach us the necessary skills in order to make sure this doesn’t occur,” sophomore Kunga Ngabtak said.