Teachers after online learning

South+Hadley+High+School%27s+band+room+has+been+cleared+out+to+be+used+as+another+classroom.

Moira Doolittle

South Hadley High School’s band room has been cleared out to be used as another classroom.

Moira Doolittle, Staff Reporter

Online learning has been largely disliked among both students and teachers, considering the amount of time spent on computers for zoom classes. There has been a lot of talk from students on thoughts about going back to school and what that will be like, but not much has been heard from the teachers. Ms. Lesniak, Ms. Ragno, and Coach Benoit were interviewed and asked about their thoughts regarding quarantine school, as well as their plans for when everyone is back in person.

Ms. Lesniak, the chair of the English department, said that she missed the students the most regarding being in person: “I miss the kids. I miss being able to interact with my students in person. I miss being able to walk around the classroom and check in with them, not only with their work, but to see how they’re doing: how their soccer game went, how their drama play is going, all of that kind of stuff. Definitely the students.”

She not only missed the interactions with her students, but also with her fellow teachers. “I took for granted the ability to be in the school and get all of my work done without distractions. But also the ability to quickly run across the hallway to Ms. Foley and just be like ‘Hey I have this idea, can I run it by you,’ or go next door to Mr. B-G and say ‘Hey I know you taught this last year, what do you think if I do this?’”

Ms. Ragno agrees with the missing the students and the interactions, as well as the ease of being able to organize class when actually in the classroom. “Definitely the inner moments, really. The small talk. There’s just so much more fun in the classroom. The check-ins, and not having to structure everything. It’s so easy to do when you’re in class.”

Coach Benoit also misses the students, but especially the ability to do labs in class. “Being a science teacher, what I really miss as well, and what I think students miss, is being in the lab. One of the beauties of chemistry is what I teach you on the board, I can show you in the classroom.”

Benoit also worries about not being able to see students’ reactions to the content. “I took for granted the fact that I could walk around and see how you were doing, and even expressions on your face. Sometimes when I ask a question you don’t even have to walk around, you can just see from the expressions what they’re thinking. Unless someone chats me that they don’t know, I don’t have a clue.”

The involvement of technology into the in-person classroom was a common theme between the teachers’ plans for the return to school. Ragno specifically mentioned her prediction that the fight over phones would become less of a problem. “I can see the integration of phones in the classroom–computers, too. I think now, more than ever, I won’t be fighting with my students to get off their phones. I think they’re going to get it.”

Benoit and Lesniak share the same thoughts on Google Classroom, and view it as a helpful tool to utilize in the future to organize the submitted work and resources, as Benoit stated. “Now that I’m fluent on this Google Classroom, I will probably be using it a lot more. I just think it’s a tool that we have that we can use moving forward.”

Lesniak will really be focusing a lot on making sure she isn’t taking time with her students for granted. “Generally when we were in the classroom before, I was very about interacting with the students, but I think that’ll be something that I focus on more, because I think that’s the hardest part right now.”

Lesniak also really likes the idea of decreasing screen time as much as possible. “We will have as little time on screens as humanly possible. They’re still going to be needed for things like writing papers, and as an English teacher that is obviously something that I have to do, but I think that–especially next year–I will be as low-screen as possible.”

Ragno really hopes that everyone can take the experience of online learning and take it as a lesson: “I just hope that we all learn from it. We teachers took a lot for granted in person. Even just as simple as giving a test, it never used to be this complicated.”

Benoit is very ready to be back in the classroom, just as he knows a lot of his students are as well. “I honestly feel–and a lot of students have said this to me–this may be the first time in your life you’ve ever said this, but I miss being in school.”

Lesniak is worried about the effect of so much screen time on students, and very hopeful that everyone will be back in-person soon. “Even with my own children at home, I see the struggle of being on a computer for 6.5 hours a day, and I see that with you guys, too. . . I am very much looking forward to being back in a classroom when it is safe to do so. It has been very sad going into the classroom and seeing the school just empty; it’s a very different vibe. It’s just not good.”

Though nobody quite knows when in-person school will be back in session, it seems at least a few teachers all share the same consensus; they are trying to take this as a learning experience, and can’t wait until it’s safe to be back together with their students in the classroom.