We Asked, You Answered: How Has Remote Learning Been for N.H.'s Teachers? | New Hampshire Public Radio

We Asked, You Answered: How Has Remote Learning Been for N.H.'s Teachers?

May 29, 2020

Sara Marzinik, 1st grade teacher at Center Woods Elementary School in Weare, poses during a physically distant pizza parade.
Credit Sara Marzinik

On March 15, Gov. Chris Sununu announced K-12 school closures across New Hampshire and a transition to remote learning. Just over a month later, he extended his order through the end of the school year.

The decision, while necessary, changed the way the education system operates. 

So, as this unprecedented school year draws to a close, New Hampshire Public Radio wanted to share first-person accounts of what it has been like for teachers, parents and students.Thanks to our K-12 remote learning survey, we were able to hear from teachers all over the state. Here’s what some of them had to say: 

 

Note: These responses were taken directly from our K-12 remote learning survey. They were not edited, but shortened for clarity. 

Hear what parents had to say.

What have you learned about yourself as an educator during school closure?

“I have learned just how much I rely on my student's input and the stimulating unpredictability of the classroom to keep students engaged.  As an art teacher,  I use spontaneity and in the moment realizations to help fuel student creativity and to validate individual voices.  It's much harder to pivot quickly and respond to the momentum generated by students in an online environment.”

                                                                                                            — Sarah Glass, Hanover High 

 

“I have learned a lot during this time.  I feel that I am in a constant state of self reflection. I have learned how much we depend on the energy of the students and feed off of each other every day.  This has also reiterated for me that I am as flexible as I thought I was, but also that this is a community effort, and we are only as successful as our school community.

                                                                                         — Beth Swartz, Richmond Middle School

Beth Swartz, 7th and 8th grade teacher at Richmond Middle School in Hanover, has been able to work outside during remote learning.
Credit Beth Swartz

“I figured out how much my own energy is tied to being with other people. Holding Zoom meetings and leaving feedback on a Google doc drains me of energy and interest. I'm teaching, but I can't imagine it's any better for my students."

                                                                 

— Anne Kopp, Berlin Middle/High

“Several things have surprised me. Foremost, how many students I have lost through online learning.  With 27 students in some classes I have only 12 to 15 that do the work and take attendance regularly. My students who are just learning the English language are the majority in this group. The students who were self initiators have risen to online learning in ways that have surprised me as well by going beyond the level of my expectations.”

                                                                                          — Lori Sweeney, Manchester Memorial 

“I have learned about priorities, what is important to me as well as my families. I have also worked to be a general resource to families and not just a teacher.”

                                                                                — Sara Marzinzik, Center Woods Elementary

What has surprised you the most about remote learning?

“The positives. Some kids, especially those who struggle with social anxiety and attention issues, have actually shown improvement since moving online and have found they enjoy this mode of learning. Personally, I'm enjoying it more than I would have imagined, too.”

                                                                                                             — Aaron Cass, Sanborn High 

“How much it has made my students and my own kids talk about missing school.  While the phrase ‘I hate school’ is common at the middle and high school level,  I hear many students recognizing how important it is in their lives and how much they crave the social environment that is school.  It makes you realize just how fundamentally social school is.”

                                                                                                             — Sarah Glass, Hanover High

Sara Marzinzik, 1st grade teacher at Center Woods Elementary in Weare, has had to teach her students how to read from her dining room table.
Credit Sara Marzinzik

“The amount of time it takes as a teacher to develop units, face the learning curve of how best to deliver the information, and then give feedback on student work is tremendous. With it all comes constant screen time and an underlying feeling that I am not doing enough. Even after I put in 10 plus hours a day.”

                                                                  — Joy Page, Epping Middle School 

“What surprised me was how abruptly and rapidly it happened! I really anticipated having a few more days to wrap my mind around it but it was executed quite quickly. It was sort of like jumping out of a moving car, hitting the ground and bobbing right back up!”

                                                                                     — Angela Driscoll, Kenneth A. Brett School

“The amount of support and love I have felt from everyone in this situation, my admin, my co-workers, and my families, everyone is in this together. I have felt nothing but support and kindness during this crazy time.”

                                                                               — Sara Marzinzik, Center Woods Elementary 

 

If remote learning needs to continue into the next school year, what needs to change?

“There needs to be guidelines and parameters for educators and for students. I equate remote learning to building a ship as you are sailing it. It's difficult to create the curriculum, learn the best way to administer the information, teach it, and give students feedback in a reasonable amount of time. Everything seems to take longer.”

                                                                                                   — Joy Page, Epping Middle School 

“We need more space. Even on a schedule that rotates half of the kids on alternating days, I still can't fit fifteen people in a small classroom! We also need a way to support parents. Students are limited by parent academic abilities. That means your student can't tackle long division unless mom and dad know it too.”

                                                                                                    — Anne Kopp, Berlin Middle/High 

“I live in a semi-rural area and we need to make sure that all teachers and students have the same access to the internet.  Right now,  I have students who simply cannot get on line or their connections are unreliable.  It raises serious questions about equity when some students are at an immediate disadvantage and they cannot access the curriculum in the same way.”

                                                                                                             — Sarah Glass, Hanover High

“The question really moving forward is how are we going to address the future when we return to school. We cannot focus just on grade level expectations. Teachers will need to really learn how to assess all skills and meet all students where they are at. There will be gaps in kids' learning. We need to prioritize the essential skills students need and [learn] how to move them forward on the learning path they are currently on. “

                                                                                — Sara Marzinzik, Center Woods Elementary

“We need to look at what our goals for education are. The way we were doing it in remote learning doesn't work for a lot of students, especially those with special needs or language barriers.  I think that the goal of education during remote learning should be as a resource that can fit into what the family needs rather than a fixed box that the family needs to fit into.”

                                                                                  — Jeannine Petriel, Smyth Road Elementary