10 Things I Learned in my First Month of Remote Teaching

It’s already been six months since we started the community quarantine – the longest in the world. But as a teacher, it felt longer.

The things that we’re accustomed to are now almost unimaginable. We became numb of the thousands of new cases every day with no end in sight. But still, education must persist.

There are challenges and more changes to come in the next few months of our school year. Still, even after less than a month, I learned a lot about our society, our educational system, and myself. 

But for this post, I’ll focus mostly on my experience regarding remote teaching. Here are some:

Every student’s need is different.

As teachers, we know that every student is different. Not only intellectually, socially, but financially. There are many factors they are going through every single day which are unknown to us – before the pandemic.

However, now, we realize that the inequality of privilege is more rampant than we imagined. Which only reveals the disadvantages that the underprivileged must go through.

The new normal necessities now include a stable Internet connection, electronic gadgets, or laptops, or even a cellular data signal in their community. These things are now more than a luxury, but a need.

Every teacher’s resources are different.

Just like how students’ needs are different to maximize learning, teachers are also experiencing the same.

The online mode of education is not easy to adapt to. And it is much more difficult for the older generation. Still, teachers will try their best.

However, as much as teachers would like to deliver quality education, our resources and knowledge with technology are our limitation.

Like students, not all teachers have their own laptops, stable internet connections, or technical savvy to quickly adapt from the traditional face-to-face instruction to the online mode of education.

It is more exhausting to teach online.

I’ve only been teaching for more than a year, so I don’t have enough experience to use as a reference point.

Before COVID, I had teaching schedules from 8AM to 5PM, I may be tired then, but I think I was not as quickly tired as with the current setup. Every time I do a synchronous lesson, I feel exhausted only after an hour.

There is a new phenomenon called “Zoom Fatigue,” which is the sudden tiredness we feel when meeting via videoconferencing apps, such as Zoom, Google Meet, or Facebook Room.

In connection to this, we can’t just convert the usual time allotment for classes before the pandemic to online classes. The 3 hours of face-to-face instruction before is not the same as the 3 hours of online discussions.

The barrier between work and personal life is disappearing.

We are all guilty of this, both students and teachers. With school walls gone, we are now more “connected” through the use of social media. 

It has its advantages, such as accessible communication, and its disadvantages, like our personal boundaries’ disappearance.

Though personally, I wanted to maintain the division between my work life and personal life, it became more challenging today. Students can message teachers anytime, which also works the other way.

But there are still ways to keep ourselves sane with our exploding inboxes. I usually do time-batching where I assign a specific time of the day to read and reply to all of the student’s inquiries.

Class preparations are more demanding.

Before, I just had to make one preparation for my class. Most of the time, a PowerPoint presentation is enough because I can supplement what was written with explanations and discussions.

But now, I try to prepare at least two types because other students are on asynchronous mode. I started to learn video recording and editing, and also to convert presentations to PDF formats. 

We also need to upload these learning materials on multiple platforms, such as the learning management system (LMS), YouTube, and on a Facebook Social Learning Group, for better access of students.

Yes, it is more challenging. But we need this to be equitable because not all students have the advantage of resources.

Classroom management is much harder.

Most of the classroom management strategies that I learned in my methods of teaching class are now almost inapplicable. Teachers now also have less control of the classroom since it is now virtual.

We need to devise new ways on how we can establish new classroom norms to apply. We also need to be more clear on our instructions and be more open to suggestions.

Basically, we are all stressed.

We abruptly transitioned from traditional face-to-face instruction to online education, which most of us are not prepared. As a result, we are all stressed and just slowly finding out how to manage our new normal schooling.

This may be unknown to some, but many teachers are trying hard to reduce their students’ stress, which only means one thing – the teachers will absorb the pressure.

Let us talk about mental health, shall we?

I think some students assume that their mental health is the only issue with the current educational setup. There are also some provisions to adjust to students’ needs to not cause additional stress and anxiety. 

This may be admirable, but the removed stress from the students should go somewhere. It will not just suddenly vanish in thin air.

So, where do you think it will be transferred to? Of course, to the teachers. Sometimes people forget that teachers are humans, and like humans, have mental health to take care of. 

We need to have a more balanced teaching approach, which will not cause added stress and anxiety for the students AND the teachers.

Exercise is more important than you think.

Due to the usual work-from-home (WFH) arrangement, many people lost their only consistent exercise, walking. And if you still managed to check on your weight, you’ll be either surprised or in denial of the added kilos.

That is why exercise is crucial during this time. It not only helps in maintaining our physical health but also our mental health. Remember that a healthy body is a healthy mind.

I’m sure you can spare at least 10mins to exercise per day.

We have no choice but to adapt.

To sum it up, the most important thing that I learned during this time is to adapt. We need to find ways on how we, as teachers, will be able to deliver the best quality of education that we can, with the resources that we have, while also taking into consideration our students’ welfare.

Only time will tell the effects of our sudden transition to online education. How much damage or gain did it contribute to our students and our community?

We just have to wait and learn from what we are going through because I believe that God has a plan for this situation. 

PS.

Don’t forget to vote. I hope you’ll realize that we need better leaders to govern us.

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