Pros and Cons of E-Learning: Teacher Edition


Chris Montgomery via Unsplash

Zoom call on a Macbook.

By Katelin Chong, Staff Writer

E-learning has been a struggle to adapt to for many students. The transition from physically being in school to sitting in front of a computer has been difficult. However, what many do not consider is how teachers have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many students have had their struggles, teachers have had their fair share of issues as well. This drastic change of environment has been tough on everyone — let’s hear what some familiar faces have to say about the situation.

“I used to consider myself pretty techy, but now I want to pull my hair out,” GAW teacher Michelle Hettinger said. “It seems like there’s constantly something you have to troubleshoot.”

Not everyone seems to be having issues, though. Matthew Wiemer, one of the APUSH teachers at West, didn’t seem to be having a hard time adjusting to this tech-based environment at all.

“I was prepared enough,” he said. “I had everything on Google Classroom, and all my readings were already digital.”

Teachers seemed to have adapted to the sudden change in a variety of ways. Depending on their previous curriculum, some have had a relatively smooth transition, while others have had a little more trouble. As an English teacher, Hettinger had to cut two books she would have taught in her usual plans, while Wiemer was unable to keep the more entertaining activities due to the huge cut in his teaching time.

“Because time with students is limited, the scope of material we cover in class has been narrowly focused. Teachers are forced to really examine the essential ideas of our disciplines, the very essence of the thinking we wish to coach in our students,” AP Physics teacher Neil Koreman said. “The cost is all the ‘gee-whiz’ moments that make learning ‘fun’; we have no time for secondary ideas.”

Getting used to Zoom and Canvas isn’t the real problem for teachers, though. There’s one thing they really care about — their students.

“Not being able to see my students’ faces while I am teaching is heartbreaking,” Koreman said. “Classroom teaching is an opportunity for me, as a selfish adult, to reap psychic reward through. It is a dignified and sacred act centered on the promise every student brings with them.”

According to Hettinger, “Kids have distractions, but now you don’t even know if they have their phones on. I have kids who need me to help them refocus.”

Wiemer shared his own thoughts — “It’s hard to get a sense of community,” he said. “I beg kids to turn on their cameras, and when only two turn them on, it’s hard to make a connection. One of the saddest things is that I could walk down a hallway without knowing who a former student is.”

During such an isolated situation, it can be difficult to keep in touch with teachers. High school is an important period of time for teens, and teachers are there to guide them through it — not being able to see their students face to face has made this job a lot harder.

“Teaching is about human interactions and connections,” Hettinger said. “You guys energize me.”

Getting used to remote learning has not been easy for anyone, and it seems it definitely has not been ideal for teachers. Despite the unfortunate situation, e-learning is the best solution to keep everyone safe during such difficult times. Teachers must make the most out of the limited time they have with their students to support them to the best of their abilities — no matter how different it may be from what they are used to, and even if they spend an entire year without seeing some of their own students’ faces.