Teaching during a pandemic provides unique challenges
By Debbie Banks, SKYCTC


Posted on October 8, 2020 8:07 PM



 

Teaching during Covid-19 is garnering many perspectives about how it should go, does go, how hard or easy it is, and what parents’, students’ and teachers’ roles should be.  This issue has created many unforeseen challenges and obstacles for instructors. They are meeting those challenges, but highlighting them might help others understand the pressures.

At the college level, instructors are met with students who are now having to navigate online without needed skills, proper internet access, and a lack of motivation or online learning ability.  Many have skills for using social media, smart phones and other technology, but have not mastered the platforms needed for online learning like Blackboard.

Explaining all the steps needed to aid them is complicated and often the instructor ends up having to explain this individually to students when it is faster and more useful to show them in class all at one time. 

Many of the students have spotty and unreliable internet access or are having to share internet or computers with multiple people in one household.  This creates a big issue for those who have timed tests online that cannot be easily reset, needing to watch videos not supported by their internet service, or simply not being able to find the time between work and home responsibilities. 

Many students need the interaction between them and their instructors. Not having that makes keeping up with assignments, finding time and motivation to do the work and not getting overwhelmed by the volume of work required are also huge challenges.

For those who are taking classes in person for the semester, most classes are split between two days, and the classrooms are smaller to provide social distancing, which creates a hybrid situation and adds extra volume to the work that instructors have to do.  They are given half the time they usually have to provide students with needed information, they are presenting the same material twice as many times in a week as they usually do, and then they have to provide the other half of classes online.  It changes the workload of five classes, for example, to more like ten. 

There are also many rules about exposure to Covid-19 and instructors have to track and report students to health officers to determine who has potentially been exposed and how long each has to quarantine and work to ensure the safety of the other students and see that they are notified.  There are often students who do not want to wear masks or quarantine, and it is the responsibility of the instructor to keep track and report those incidents and potentially be exposed or have their students exposed at the same time. 

Many of the instructors have parents and grandparents and other vulnerable family and friends they are responsible for. They worry they could expose them to the virus every day.

 

Overall, students and instructors are navigating the new and strange learning environment of Covid-19, but with information changing on an almost daily basis, it is a challenge.  It has become a time for everyone involved to have patience, compassion and grit to work together to make this work until lives can go back to normal. 

Maybe an unforeseen benefit will be that we have learned valuable lessons that will follow us into the future when we are all talking about 2020 in the past and saying, “Remember when we had to do….way back in 2020?”

Hang in there. We are all going to get through this and be better for it. 

Debbie Banks is an Associate Professor of English at Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College (SKYCTC) and a frequent contributor to The Logan Journal.

 




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