Teachers continue to struggle with new challenges of remote learning


Olivia Gaziano

Teachers continue to struggle with changes fue to remote learning.

Michelle Serna and Cache Merriweather

A year ago, teachers excitedly greeted their students each time they walked into class. Now, there are no more side conversations, no more noticing when a student is visibly struggling, and no more face to face interaction that builds relationships that last a lifetime. Instead, teachers are either working alone in their classrooms or finding a space to set up a workspace in their own homes while talking to screens filled with black boxes and wondering who is behind them.

Teachers have felt the stress that comes with having to learn how to teach online while also staying safe themselves. There are countless concerns from teachers that have become prevalent due to this stress whether it be about students or about teaching.

“​The stress has been a lot, and I can’t lie,” special education teacher Angela Kellogg said. “I have a child at home who is remote learning as well, so balancing parenting and teaching has been a lot. There have been some tears in our house for sure, but each day we try to start fresh and just do the best we all can do.”

Teachers not only have families of their own, but they could also be struggling with maintaining their own mental health. Although schools are focusing on their students’ mental health, there is less of a focus on mental health for teachers. They are the ones who focus on the students’ mental health instead.

“It’s extremely hurtful to hear some people in the community comment about teachers having it so easy teaching from home,” one Metea teacher said, requesting not to be named in this story. “I take calls and emails late at night while still having all the responsibilities of a single parent and running a household. I do private Zooms when technically my workday should be over. I don’t mind doing all the new things needed for remote learning, but I wish others would truly see how hard teachers are really working and how difficult it has been to have so many new things thrown at us on a weekly basis.”

Last month, teachers took a survey that was presented at a school board meeting regarding how teachers feel about returning to in-person learning. Based on the results, 51% of the teachers do not feel comfortable returning to in-person learning, 28% are neutral about the situation, and the remaining 20% do not have a problem with it.

“I feel like [the district administration] have asked about how they can help, but I do not feel they have used my responses or the responses of my colleagues to make an impactful change or provide needed support,” the teacher said. “I have reached the point in this whole transition where I just feel helpless. I feel as though I ask more questions than I receive answers.”

The administration has been trying to get more responsive to getting feedback to the teachers as best as possible. However, some teachers feel that they do not apply that response to change procedures for the teachers. The goal is so they can have a better school year in this new format, as well as feeling more confident.

Furthermore, teachers care for themselves and the positive environment they try to show for their students. Teachers try to engage with students when needed guidance with assignments or personal issues. Seeing students succeed or enjoying their job can be a source of motivation for some teachers. Even so, it is a struggle for teachers to not only grade online, but virtual learning also means an increase in emails from both students and colleagues.

“As far as texting and Zooming with other staff members, it is difficult to get questions answered and work with others, especially as a new teacher,” English teacher Sean McNicholas said. “It is also hard to communicate and build relationships with students over Zoom, especially when we are not seeing them in person every day.”

Even when there is no face to face interaction with students, teachers still try to provide the best environment they can over a Zoom call. It is important to teachers that they let their students know that they are always there for them. They want their students to succeed, and they bring out the best in themselves to build a good relationship with each other.

“I hope my students know that I am always here for them, no matter what time of day or night,” Kellogg said. “I want to support them academically and emotionally. I want them to know we are all trying to be flexible with workloads. I just hope they know they just have to ask for help and we will figure out how to succeed together.”