Teachers Adjust to Remote Learning

Andrew Kleissler, Reporter

The pandemic has taken a toll on teachers and has affected the way they have had to adapt to teaching remotely, an unprecedented move for public school teachers in New Jersey.

Epi.org says that teachers are the closest witnesses of the challenges the pandemic has brought for their students, for themselves, and for their jobs, and their expertise and judgment are critically important to solving these challenges as the pandemic continues and in its aftermath.

Ms. Pannullo, an English teacher at Woodbridge High School, said that her love for her students and family have kept her going. “I’ve adapted because I have to.”

“I try to remember that I’m here for both my children and my students,” she said. “That’s what brings me back to base and allows me to go with the flow when I really want to scream.” 

For Ms. Pannullo, balancing school and the home was a struggle early on in the pandemic. “In the beginning, when this was all new, it was quite the struggle. Now, I let a lot roll off my shoulders.”

Ms. Pannullo keeps a “professional, quiet setting” and does her best to handle her children’s needs, as well. “For instance, when my daughter barges into her room during my class to demand I return her laptop, I have to ask my students to give me a second to handle the situation,” she said.

Managing her students, she said, has “greatly changed” this year. “I feel like I’ve gotten to know icons on a screen instead of people. Students also aren’t as engaged with me or the lessons. The distance between student and teacher makes it very easy for students to drift off from the dialogue of the class.” 

Similarly, Miss Burke, a gym teacher at Woodbridge High School, said teaching remotely doesn’t give her the “opportunity or pleasure to interact with students face to face,” and that “students tend to be less vocal on camera than they are in person.”

Technology issues have also become a burden. “The one thing that is a problem, teaching virtually during this pandemic, has been repeating myself several times due to computer issues,” she said.  She sometimes loses class time for having to explain things again because of connection issues. 

Miss Rich, a guidance counselor at Woodbridge High School, said that helping students is now more challenging through a computer. “I feel as though I’ve adapted well,” she said. “I am trying to be proactive and stay on top of all my students.”

However, getting in touch with students has become difficult. “I am not able to get a hold of students the way I used to in school,” Ms. Rich said, “so it is very challenging trying to get in touch with everyone on my caseload.”

While the pandemic has not been easy for learners or teachers, educators throughout the country have made changes to reach their students and deliver their curriculum. It has not been easily, or ideal, but it’s a challenge teachers have faced head on.