Teachers Describe Virtual Teaching Takeaways


Tatum Herrin

Teachers are adapting their classes for the virtual and hybrid learning formats. One teacher might use the strategy of waving to their class through Zoom. Staff illustration: Tatum Herrin.

Jake Lieberman, Staff Writer

Many Menlo community members have had to sacrifice things during the pandemic, such as in-person events and school. Many Menlo teachers feel that they will take away various important lessons from distance learning.

Teachers have had to adapt to new ways of teaching during distance learning. Middle School Faculty Support Riqui Lambert likes many aspects of virtual classes, including posting homework online, grading assignments online and going paperless. “I think it makes it easier for everyone to keep track of assignments for both students and teachers,” Lambert wrote in an email to The Coat of Arms. For Lambert, this difference has been quite significant as it has made his online experience more successful.

I also like the online office hours but [am] not sure if students do,” Lambert said. Virtual office hours now take place in teachers’ Zoom classrooms for 20 minutes after each class.

According to Lambert, these intricacies about virtual teaching are key takeaways from distance learning.

For Upper School Spanish teacher Janet Tennyson, distance learning has created new challenges, and she has had to practice more understanding of what each student needs when teaching online. “I think that I will continue meeting more closely with students 1:1. This allows students to build greater confidence and trust in me, and [it] makes them more comfortable to participate during class,” Tennyson wrote in an email to The Coat of Arms.

“Learning over Zoom makes it more challenging for students to speak up in classes,” Tennyson said.

Tennyson has also utilized creative methods to keep students engaged. “The pandemic has introduced me to a huge array of new online tools and platforms to enhance teaching,” she said. She now uses tools such as Gimkit, Loom, Flipgrid, Nearpod, Pear Deck and Padlet. “These tools increase student interest and allow for greater interaction from students,” Tennyson said. 

Middle School math teacher Kevin Campion shared a similar sentiment with Tennyson. “Starting this year without having met many of my students in person made me anxious about the lack of connection that we’d have,” Campion said. “Because of this, I made a much more consistent effort to spend time in class getting to know [students]. […] After the pandemic, I plan to make more time to get to know my students personally.”

Upper School English teacher Whitney Newton gave her thoughts surrounding building empathy during the pandemic. “I think this experience has exposed us all as humans in a really beautiful and necessary way. We’ve always known we all — students, teachers, staff, etc. — had lives beyond the classroom, but once you’ve actually seen them, you just can never go back to seeing them the same way,” Newton wrote in an email to The Coat of Arms.

“I think we’re all a lot more understanding of each other’s humanity now, a little gentler. I hope we can all hold onto some of that,” Newton said.