Little Black Boxes

Teachers struggle to get to know the students behind the boxes on Zoom.

Many teachers are struggling to find ways to interact with their students during NTI. At Dunbar, it is not required for students to turn on their cameras leading teachers to wonder if their students are actually listening and learning. Some teachers are even struggling to get motivated to teach with little attendance and participation in the Zoom. 

It is scary and boring talking to a black screen.  I love people and interacting with my students.  This has been by far my hardest year in 20.  I have finally figured out we have to have talk time about things that are not class-related,” Ms. Lori Winburn said. 

According to many teachers, they are struggling to build strong connections with their students. Many say that during NTI it has been hard to know what kids are going through, what their mood is, and if they need intervention. Being in person, teachers have one-on-one connections and are able to identify problems and issues more easily.

“I’m a teacher who really enjoys developing relationships with students as a motivator to learning.  It is really hard to do that when students are distant and limited in their interactions.  I have tried to adjust my lessons to be able to gauge whether a student is paying attention as well as I can see it in their work,” Mr. Sean Carter said.

During Zoom, some teachers have even found their students leaving class. Students sign into Zoom and then leave when they think the teacher is not paying attention to attendance. Some teachers are experiencing kids leave in the middle of instruction leaving them with only five or six students at the end of class. 

“I have mixed emotions about how I feel when students leave my class. The teacher side of me is frustrated,” Mrs. Keia Scott Newsome said. “On a personal level you know what you put into each and every lesson and you feel underappreciated when students leave or don’t show up.”

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers are trying to be a little more lenient with their students.

“Many students are working, taking care of their households, wondering if their lights and heat will be turned off, where their next meals are coming from or if they will be abused that day. As much as we hate to admit it, some of our students live rough lives,” said Mrs. Newsome. “There are students who are sick with COVID-19 themselves or have lost loved ones and friends, so I understand when students just can’t do it that day. As long as students communicate that with me, I’m as flexible as I need to be to meet their needs. In every relationship, there has to be a give and take.”