Q&A: Teachers and students speak on the adjustment to online classes

With everyone’s life changing due to Covid-19, people certainly have their own opinions on the way school has adjusted to online classes. Teachers and students have different thoughts about online classes and how it has affected learning.

What do you like most about online classes?

photo provided by Vaneeza Moloo

AP US History teacher, Travis Zuber: “Allowing the students to complete the work at their own pace, given whatever their circumstances are, is a very good benefit. Y’all tend to work late at night and on the weekends, so I know that fits around y’alls schedule a lot more than the traditional 8-4 day.”

AP English 3 teacher, Jeanette Rooks: “What I have liked the most is how quickly all of you picked up on it. Everybody was very flexible about jumping in and giving it a try.”

Junior, Aidan Turner: “I like how online classes have reduced the workload, and I can do everything on my own time.” 

Senior, Marissa Bhavsar: “I like the flexibility of being able to work on my own time during the week.”

Junior, Vaneeza Moloo: “I like being able to go through the material on my own at my own pace, rather than the really harsh deadlines of normal school.” 

What do you find most difficult about online classes?

photo provided by Marissa Bhavsar

Zuber: “I miss the one-on-one interactions. A Webex conference can’t mimic a normal class. It does diminish what we can do in class, which is a lot about asking questions and verifying. It is a lot of work, because you have to modify everything for online [school].”

Rooks: “Not knowing how well it is going [is the most difficult part]. With so many people on [Webex], people don’t want to ask a question. They don’t want to be a delay and slow down the lesson, so it is just harder to get a sense of how well everyone is doing.”

Turner: “Probably keeping the motivation to get everything done [is the most difficult]. You have to be self-motivated since there is no teacher there to get on you.”

Bhavsar: “Not being in class to get the teaching directly from the teacher [is the most difficult thing about online classes]. Being able to ask questions in person and interacting with classmates are things I miss. It is also hard to focus and have the drive to get your work done.”

Moloo: “I miss being able to do tutoring during lunch because that was my time to go in and ask questions and have one-on-one interactions. But now online it is still a little difficult to set up a time [to talk with a teacher] when you don’t have a meeting or have to complete another assignment.”

What surprised you most about online classes?

photo provided by Jeanette Rooks

Zuber: “The biggest surprise was that I couldn’t just take what I was already doing and put it on online because it just doesn’t flow as well.”

Rooks: “Initially, my surprise was how reserved people were. Some of the people who are very participatory in class are suddenly quiet online. There are some students that would get behind in regular school, that are completely keeping up with things online. Those are the kids where I am like, ‘Oh you are really thriving in a place where you can set your own schedule.’”

Turner: “I thought that it was going to be a lot easier, but it is not because you have to make yourself do everything, even though there are less assignments.”

Bhavsar: “I think how teachers have been able to assign us work and us learn and do things effectively [has been the most surprising].”

Moloo:  “[I was surprised at] how efficiently everything has been working. I haven’t really had a single problem with Canvas or Webex, but I thought there was definitely going to be a lot more technical difficulties at first, but everything has been running pretty smoothly.” 

Do you think school will change in any way in the future because our current situation?

photo provided by Aidan Turner

Zuber: “There are several things I have done now that I think I will continue to do. I think overall just getting teachers used to the online format is going to help flip some of the classrooms. I could easily post a lecture to YouTube and have students do that for homework, and use the class time to work on skills and projects. I think other teachers are going to start to realize a little bit more that we don’t want to give up the in-class engagement with students, but some of the stuff that we are doing right now is something that we could continue doing online.”

Rooks: “In LISD we have always had some options of blended or VLA classes, and I think more students will be interested in that now. I don’t think the school itself is likely to dramatically change, partly because we do just completely lose some kids with this format. We can’t entirely hold kids accountable without knowing their circumstances.”

Turner: “Maybe not so much LISD, because we already have a lot of electronic integration, but for maybe other districts that didn’t used to use as much technology before, they might see the value of it now.”

Bhavsar: “I definitely think schools will take [online classes] into consideration because maybe it has been pretty effective and they realize that students don’t need to be at school for every period of every day. So I do think that things are going to change.” 

What are your thoughts on the pass/fail aspect of online classes?

photo provided by Travis Zuber

Zuber: “A grade is supposed to be a reflection of what you are able to learn and there is not a possible way in this scenario to make sure whatever you are doing is a reflection of what you actually can do. So, I understand why the district did away with grades and went to pass/fail. But if somebody can’t get online and do their work and you fail them, is that fair during a global pandemic? I think a lot of people would argue no.” 

Rooks: “[Pass/fail] is a heartbreaker for anybody who was trying to make an improvement in the second semester [with their grades]. But I don’t see another way to do it. It’s impossible to know what work people have done independently. It’s impossible to know who is confronting some challenges that we know nothing about. It is certainly not ideal, but there is no ideal.” 

Turner: “I like pass/fail. Especially for classes that didn’t do much online before or are not really made for online, having to actually grade would be very unfair and weird to some students.”

Bhavsar: “I think the pass/fail situation is kind of unfair for some students like underclassmen and juniors. For seniors, I think it is totally fine, because our grades don’t really matter anyway.

Have AP Tests affected the way you are dealing with online classes?

Rooks: “I think [having AP tests] has been to my advantage. I have had almost nobody not complete most of the work. I know that is not true for everybody. I think it adds stress for some kids, because we are not in the classroom where they can easily ask questions.”

Turner: “I have to pay more attention in my AP classes because I have to study it all on my own now.”

Bhavsar: “[For the AP test], it is kind of hard not being able to be in class and getting those face-to-face lessons with my teacher and the review we were supposed to get. It is hard, but I think online classes have adjusted well with the live sessions and the videos teachers are making for us to help us review.”