Teachers and staff reflect on the first month of distance learning

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Emily Schwank, Intern

As the Temecula Valley Unified School District wrapped up its first month of distance learning, teachers and staff reflected on their experience thus far.

Compared to the final months of the previous school year, TVUSD was clear that this year would be much more rigorous than the last and would be equally demanding as in-person learning.

The district switched their primary digital medium for the upper grades from Google Classroom to Canvas, which allows teachers to post classwork, assessments and grades all in one place. They also bought access to Zoom, the online teleconference service, for students and staff to use. Zoom allows teachers to divide classes into small breakout rooms, as if they were physically sitting in groups.

The teachers and staff had a week of professional development to prepare for distance learning, and the board implemented Zoom after the school year began.

“It is incredibly difficult for everybody involved,” Daniel Day, a teacher at Chaparral High School, said. “However, I really do believe that we all are making the best of it and getting better every day. I think it is very uncomfortable for everyone right now; however, I know that I for one am learning a ton at a fast rate and what I’m learning will still be applicable even once we get to go back to the classroom.”

Trisha Shea, an English teacher in the district, said, “Some students want to stay 100% online and seem to be living their best lives right now. Then there are some like me, who have found ways to make the best of the changes, but still miss being at school.”

Some teachers are making the decision to prioritize mental health.

“I know in my class I’m trying to make it a priority to check in with students while also trying to work-in little tips on how to keep a positive mindset,” Day said.

Compared to last year, Shea said “This semester feels more exciting to me. I think it’s because of the same back to school excitement of meeting new people. I’m also teaching ERWC, which is a new course for me and I love learning new things.

“The spring semester was a little emotional for everyone because we never really got to say goodbye and I know many of my seniors were heartbroken to not have the senior year events they were looking forward to enjoying,” Shea said. “I hope the community knows how much teachers and administrators love their students. Many of us are working 12-hour days consistently, just to make sense of the new online learning programs with not-so-up-to-date technology. There have been many challenges for us and we are doing our best to provide the best possible learning situation for our students.”

In reference to his students, Day said, “From what I am seeing, you are all doing a great job of adapting and making the most of this situation. I’ve been impressed early on this year with the maturity and dedication that I am seeing. Every day is a gift and an opportunity to learn and grow so keep your heads up and know that all of your efforts will pay off.”

Emily Schwank can be reached by email at valleystaff@reedermedia.com.