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Teachers at Fremont Middle School answered a student’s question about distance learning.

Due to COVID-19, on April 8, Gov. Kate Brown announced that all of Oregon schools — including Roseburg — would be closed for the remainder of the year.

This has many students engaging in Distance Learning. It is very different from the typical classroom education students are used to.

However, it is not only the students whose lifestyle has changed, it also affects teachers.

Fremont teachers answered some questions describing their thoughts on Distance Learning.

What do you miss most?Teachers are missing both students and colleagues.

Tim Weber, math and science teacher, said “I miss the students the most. It is impossible to replace the connections that take place inside the school every day.”

Lisa Crain, language arts teacher, said, “My colleagues and I call the people who spend their days in our school ‘The Fremont Family.’ I miss the personal relationships that I have with students and other teachers. The teachers are friends and we work together closely every day to make Fremont a great learning environment for students. A common phrase heard in our building is “I’ve got your back.”

Math, science, and drama teacher Tim Sensabaugh said, “The sense of community is diminished, both on staff to student levels and staff to staff. I miss being unable to build for great performances and seeing the “spark” in the eyes of students who are super proud of what they just accomplished.”

What do you like about it?Educators are enjoying the exploration of new technology.

Crain said, “Distance learning has nudged me into exploring and learning about new technologies. One platform that is new for many teachers is Google Classroom. It is an excellent program and I am learning new bits and pieces about how it assists with online learning everyday. I love reading through student writing and GC allows me to provide feedback, comments and participate in the editing process with students.”

Weber added, “Distance learning allows for creative ways to teach students and also makes good use of technology. Many students are becoming more comfortable with technology because of distance learning.”

What are some of the challenges?Teachers agree the biggest challenge of distance learning is not being able to teach in person.

Weber said, “Learning best takes place face to face and it is really hard to connect with students without that. Another struggle is making sure everyone is safe and healthy.”

Kris Ronk, a social studies teacher, added, “Not being able to help students in person and interact or discuss concepts and ideas is a bummer. A lot of the joy of learning is sharing ideas, inferences, and discussion with others.”

What tips do You have?Fremont teachers suggest that students find ways to keep learning despite challenges.

Sensabaugh specified, “1. Stay engaged. 2. Develop a routine. 3. Find the inspiring or important learning in each assignment. 4. ‘Own’ your learning. This is kind of an older concept, but it makes all the difference in whether you actually participate and learn something to improve your understanding of how the world works, or not. 5. Work hard. Play hard. 6. Regularly reach out and do something nice for someone else without expecting something in return.”

Ronk summed it up with “My advice to students, parents, and teachers is to realize that this is a ‘blip’ in the timeline of our life. It won’t last forever and can be an opportunity for connections, resetting, and meaningful relationship building in families. Education is more than a classroom. Seek opportunities to learn something about yourself, your environment, the people around you, and your world. It will help you appreciate what’s really important in life.”

It’s clear to see that Fremont teachers miss their students and each other. They are jumping in to help their students in these chaotic times.

Crain explained, “Students can learn and build knowledge by participating in distance learning. The teachers are ready to help and provide feedback. This is new and different but new and different will not stop us. Fremont 5 Star Generals know how to persevere.”

Skylar Knox is a sixth grade student at Fremont Middle School in Roseburg.

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