Teachers learn how to juggle teaching remotely from home or from the classroom

Brad Kemper '21, Staff Writer

An example of an online learning setup from home. Photo courtesy of Brad Kemper ’21.

Remote learning has forced teachers to change their teaching environments. Most teachers have been teaching from home but have occasionally used the building to enhance the learning experience.

With South using virtual learning for the foreseeable future, teachers and educators have had to transfer their environments to the comfort of their own homes.

Some teachers have preferred teaching in a hybridized style, with them commuting to the South campus to teach from their traditional classrooms, but also opt to stay home on certain days to teach class online. Peter Palen teaches history at South, and has traveled between his own home and school to teach.

“I’ve been teaching at home and at school, a combination of the two. At first I was trying to work from home. But this morning I was in the building, because I live eight minutes away from school. said South teacher Peter Palen. So it’s very convenient for me to go to my classroom.”

On the other hand, others have opted for a completely online experience, only traveling to teach at South when the day would require it.

“I’ve gotten into school a couple times when I’ve needed equipment for a demo or something,” South teacher Todd Hecker said. “But for the most part I’ve been teaching from my guest room.”

For some teachers, teaching from home is more convenient to their situation and helping their own children with remote learning is a priority for them; even if they prefer the more traditional setting of the classroom as Hecker does.

“I have kids at home and with virtual learning it’s just logistically easier for me to stay home. To help them with homeschooling, literally sitting in front of the computer from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.” Hecker said. “ But it’s still nice to be home and to be able to eat lunch with my kids, and that kind of thing.”
However, some educators prefer the traditional experience of being in a classroom learning environment when teaching remotely.

“It just feels more authentic in a classroom to me, and my internet connection is more stable in the building than it is at home.” Palen said. “At the beginning of quarantine everybody was like, isn’t it cute, if I would be on my call in the backyard? No you have no signal. What are you doing?”

Hecker has been using tools at home to try and make the learning from home experience more hands-on and easier to follow along with.

“I’ve been using my Microsoft Surface to do screen share. A big part of what I do in the classroom is answering questions either in front of the whole class or working in a breakout group,” said Hecker. “I feel like it has been fairly effective, (but) it’s certainly not as good as being live. But you gotta make the best of it.”

Palen has also arranged his home desk to somewhat resemble what he would be getting had he been in his classroom daily for the days that he teaches remotely.

“I have some books behind me that I think give me a lot of cred. I have all the textbooks. I have a copy at home and a copy at school, which is convenient for me. For instance, in a classroom I would have my smartboard up, and I would throw a document up on it.” Palen said. “I’m really concerned that students aren’t physically writing things, because that’s how things stick in your head.”