Online learning vexes even the best teachers

The pandemic that has closed so many public schools has forced teachers to balance their instinct to push students to reach their full potential against their feelings of compassion for the hardships they are enduring (“The hardest midterm test,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 2). 

Those teachers who are most effective in a traditional classroom are finding themselves particularly conflicted.  They’ve never had to deal with anything even remotely similar.  They don’t want their students to fall behind, but at the same time they don’t want to exacerbate the pressure they are under.  It’s a no-win struggle.

I don’t see anything significantly changing in the near future.  In fact, the toll taken on both teachers and students will likely only intensify.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

2 Replies to “Online learning vexes even the best teachers”

  1. Not sure that pushing students to excel is that much of a concern for teachers. Seems that teachers should be willing to push students to excel whether the students are in the classroom or at home. The teachers are not doing the students any favors by going “easy” on the teaching. Arguably, the remote learning reduces anti-academic-achievement peer pressure in the low-SES classrooms and therefore makes it easier for the students in the low-SES classes to make the effort required to achieve.

    Seems that the main problem most teachers will encounter in the switch from in-person to virtual instruction is maintaining students’ interest. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the 1950s/1960s before computer monitors existed, but I find it very difficult to sit still and pay attention to computer monitor instruction (as opposed to entertainment) lasting more than, say, 20 minutes. My in-person concentration span is way longer than my virtual concentration span. I just don’t see how even very effective teachers can maintain student interest over more than perhaps a two-hour virtual school day (and that’s with the two hours broken up into several small segments). Likewise, most US classroom teachers have lots of experience maintaining pupil interest during in-person instruction and zero experience maintaining pupil interest during virtual instruction. So, for many experienced teachers, the virtual instruction will be like a rookie teacher again with little sense of what will work and what will not work.


  2. Labor Lawyer: I share your inability to focus after about 20 minutes, which is why remote learning is so hard on both teachers and students. There is something unique taking place when instruction takes place before a live teacher and a live classroom of students. I’d have trouble adapting my instruction if I were still teaching.


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