Considering teachers’ perspectives on remote learning

The sun sets over the Beaverton High School football field.

Natalie Foote

The sun sets over the Beaverton High School football field.

Despite the Beaverton School District’s frequent emails detailing what Phase 3 may look like, many families remain confused. Students may have received cryptic emails from teachers about assignments that seem contradictory to what the district has said, or others may have only received a quick check-in email with no concrete details. In this chaotic time, teachers may seem like the ideal scapegoat, but it’s important to try to understand their perspective. Students aren’t the only ones struggling with the changes.

Some teachers are finding it difficult to translate their classes onto a digital platform. Drama teacher Shannon Dery, for example, has struggled coming up with a way for online Acting and Theatre classes to resemble regular classes. Band, PE, and Art teachers have expressed similar concerns.

More so than others, these classes are hard to replicate online because of the experiences these classes provide students. While a math teacher and an art teacher can assign instructional videos to their students, an art class loses a personality to it that a math class may not have.

“[Online learning] will never replace the kind of hands-on learning you get from actually doing work in a real classroom with real students and a real teacher,” said Dery.

As is the case with most adults in this day and age, there will always be some less versed in technology than others. The same goes for teachers as some find moving their classes online to be complex.

“I am not very techie, as my students know, and trying to troubleshoot tech issues from home is a steep learning curve,” said Beaverton band director Mary Bengel. 

Teachers are doing their best. They are attempting to bring a real classroom experience to everyone’s home—a difficult task, to say the least. “Be gracious, be patient, allow us to make mistakes, give us some time to learn, and keep learning!” said chemistry teacher, Ms. Lee. 

But she is not the only one—several teachers discussed the importance of patience during this process above all else. “It will be clunky and imperfect…but so is life,” said math teacher Jason Sarmiento.

Overall, empathize with the hurdles that teachers need to jump through to bring education to students in a new setting. They are learning too, right alongside students. “My goal is to figure out one small thing at a time. Taken as a whole, the task is daunting, but in small pieces, it is manageable,” said math teacher Peter Zaworski. 

Over the next couple of months, teachers and students will work together to overcome the flaws of this system. With patience and work ethic, both can come out of this prepared for next year. 

“At the end of the day, we are doing the best we can with the cards we are dealt. It isn’t an ideal situation for anyone. In a perfect world, we’d still be in the classroom,” said Sarmiento.