Confessions of a Teacher

A Teacher’s Love-Hate-Love Relationship with Zoom

“Bing Bong.”
Thirty years from now when I hear the sound of someone entering a Zoom room, I’ll have vivid memories of just how much I loved, hated, and loved about online learning through this platform.
LOVE – Seeing my studentsJust about every day, I’m checking in with my students and seeing their faces. My students are my passion for my profession, and my relationship with them is the biggest currency
HATE* – Not seeing all my studentsThe hardest part about this is so many of my students don’t check-in. In other districts where check-ins are mandatory, that doesn’t mean they’re willing or even more importantly able to do it
LOVE – Being able to connect with any students at any timeWe need to have a quick meeting to discuss about a project? Oh, just 5 of you don’t get it? Great. See you at 4:30 p.m.
HATE – Being at work all the timeOur district implemented weekly check-in at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday evenings, which meant a solid 75+% of my 8th-grade students were trying to cram in all their lessons on Saturday, and, when they didn’t understand something, always had a question that night
LOVE – The features of ZoomThere really are some great things that Zoom has – break out rooms, recording the conversation, a typed chat, background images, ease and accessibility on phones and computers
HATE – Zoom fatigueAll these great features have worn me out and I’m just tired of sitting, which is also a good lesson for any teacher in the classroom
LOVE – Seeing what life is like for my studentsI am a big fan of home visits and wish we were able to do more to break down the boundaries between home and school; this was as close as it got
HATE – Seeing what life is like for my studentsMy heart went out for so many kids who were so embarrassed to show their homes when kids asked for “show and tell” or a house tour. Even worse when kids get yelled at by their parents while they’re on a Zoom call
LOVE – Being able to connect with friends and family I’d taken for grantedMy friends from college and I have never talked more and been more connected since we graduated 15 years ago
HATE – Not being able to share comforting silence with themOne of my friends just went through a divorce, another’s wife just lost a child, and another is struggling with things. Sometimes it would be nice to just light a backyard fire and stare at that over a beer rather than the fire of a late-night computer screen
LOVE – Fanning through a sea of eager facesAs we watched the final video of the year, with photos recapping our great memories together, I loved being able to scan through the faces and see how kids were reacting, as their smiles and tears reinforced just how great a school year we had
HATE – No eye contactWe’re so consumed with how we look on the screen as we see ourselves talking (and how odd that is) that our number one distraction is this; the number 2 issue is to look at someone’s eyes means diverting attention from the camera, so one can’t look into another’s eyes
LOVE – It’s filled a gap and done so quite well and quite quicklySeriously, who knew what Zoom was before this mess? For the company to step up and fill a huge void not just in education, but in our connection with one another, it’s incredibly wonderful
HATE# – I’d trade Zoom for my classroom any day, any second, any situation — and so would my studentsOnline charter schools can keep their thing. I like the presence of being in the classroom, with others, building community and establishing relationships. My biggest worry is we start off next school year with kids we have no relationship with, and the learning will suffer.
LOVE – It’s reminded me how many simple things I’ve taken for grantedStepping across the hallways to talk to my colleagues. Joking with kids. Seeing them smile. Seeing the sun peer through my classroom windows in the morning. Having a kid stop by to say hi before going to lunch. Lunch duty, of all things. The look of kids when they hit the “a-ha” moment. The chatter of kids excitedly working together.
Man, I miss it. And I can wait to go back, but not a minute longer than we have to.
*It’s well within my understanding that “hate” is a very charged word, but it is common vernacular to have a “love-hate” relationship with items.
#Readers will notice that most of my disdain for Zoom has little to do with the company, and more to do with the wishful return to in-person contact, communication, and education

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