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Elementary Zoom Classes

By: Trista Stone/ Junior Writer

Without question, the 2020-2021 school year has been challenging for students, teachers and school administrators, but it has been especially challenging for many of our elementary learners. As a high school student and older sister, I find my time split between helping my younger brother and trying to balance work and school. I’ve personally observed my brother’s struggles with online learning.  It is difficult for him to sit in one spot for any length of time, let alone pay attention to his teacher on a computer screen. My guess is it is a similar experience for other younger students, as well. For my brother, being at home used to mean playing outside, watching television or just relaxing. Now, as soon as he joins a Zoom class, he is expected to sit still and stare at his computer screen. This made me wonder about the experience of others. Here is what eight elementary teachers I interviewed at the Blue Ridge School District had to say.

Teachers:

Sharon Watkins: “We MANAGED learning through zoom, but WHAT was difficult was a sense of belonging. I feel teacher affection, and relationships students build in school are a crucial part of education and learning. Students need to feel like they BELONG….it gives them self-worth. Friendships are made on the playground, in-person in the classroom, and during lunch, which is important for childhood development! This can only be done IN SCHOOL! I love creating a classroom family, where the students care about each other,help each other out and take care of the classroom. Each student looks forward to being the V.I.P. (very important person) and being my classroom helper and having show-n-tell. All of these things are missed on ZOOM!

Cheryl Farrell: “I feel that the most difficult part of teaching a child through zoom is the attention aspect. Students have so many distractions at home. We have tried using headphones and that seems to help. Some students are in a quiet room and other’s have siblings on other zooms in the room with them. Not being able to see the work students are doing (paper/pencil) is also a difficulty we face.”

Jamie Markarian: “I would say that one difficult part is making sure that the children have the materials needed to participate during the zooms.”

Victoria Hoal (Emotional Support): “I work with emotional/autistic support students. The hardest thing about teaching over zoom versus in person is the lack of attention students give to lessons. There are so many distractions at home, and its hard to keep the kids on task. Their lack of focus then leads to incomplete or sloppy work.”

Holly Johnson: “The lack of control. There are so many things that you cannot control when you are not face to face with a student. That is very frustrating. All classroom management goes right out the window.”

Jenna Kogut: “The best part about teaching elementary students is providing hands on experiences. I feel very limited on the ability to provide hands on experiences and creative grouping while online. The social connection in school is very important.”

Krista Treible: “For me, the most difficult part of teaching a child through zoom is that you cannot always easily see their work in order to make sure you are helping them in real time. As teachers, we have a document camera and can share our screen, but students do not have that ability. There are some ways around it, such as scanning in papers and having students use Kami while the teacher is using GoGuardian to see their screen, but it is less than ideal. Sometimes you need a student to work on a paper, packet, or in a workbook. You cant walk around and listen to each student read to you in a zoom class. Giving subtle hints or private reminders when a student makes a mistake can only be done through chat instead of just a point or a whisper. Teachers will always do their best to research best practices and to try their best for the student, but it can be hard knowing that if they were in front of you, you could help them so much more. There is also something to be said about building a relationship in person and getting to know your students in real life. Being in tune and knowing your students will help you read them and know if they understand or not just by looking at them. That doesn’t always translate as well over the computer.”

Trudi Hepler: “The most difficult part of teaching through zoom is you can’t have second graders participate verbally too much or you don’t get much done, because they just want to tell stories to each other. So after my lesson those that wanted to chat for a bit would stay on. Coming up with ways for them to participate was hard, lots of thumbs up if ready or hands on your head if that is correct. I did teach them to unmute quickly and answer the question quickly then mute yourself. As for having them sit still and trying to keep their attention while teaching a lesson was extremely difficult. We practiced proper zoom etiquette. I am impressed with how they can behave especially when they know each lesson was being recorded.”  

As you read above, it involved my perspective on this topic along with the eight elementary teachers that wanted to be involved as well! 

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Trista Stone
Trista Stone
Trista Stone is a senior in her second year of journalism. Trista participates in softball and basketball cheerleading. She plans to attend college after graduation to become an occupational therapist! In her free time she likes to hangout with friends and go shopping:)
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