Teachers Adapt to the Connected Model


Photo by Getty Images

Teacher engages class in virtual learning.

 Mehlville High School has started the school year off in a connected model. 

     Ever since the first day of school, adaptations to an entirely new lifestyle with virtual learning have been harder for some than others. Teaching has changed drastically compared to the in-person learning everyone was used to. 

     Joseph Burkemper, Woods and science teacher, recognizes this year is different. 

     “I would say adapting is the wrong word. It’s more like trying to fly a fighter jet with no training, and then someone applies a blindfold, and then you have to land the jet, on a boat, during a hurricane,” said Burkemper.

     Emily Wehling, art teacher, recalls that the teacher student relationship has been out of the ordinary. 

     “First and foremost, I miss the connection with students. The energy is off, and I’m lucky if I get five real faces on my screen each class period. Talking to a bunch of icons feels hollow,” Wehling said.         

     Kyle Farley, science teacher, agrees. 

     “The hardest thing about adapting is not seeing the students! I like to be with my students in our classroom. I like to see their expressions and body language as they interact and collaborate with each other,” said Farley.  

     Hand in hand with communication, comprehension has also been a challenge with our connected model.

     “I also think tone is difficult to convey virtually. For me, it’s easier to understand students’ on a social-emotional level in-person. With virtual teaching, I am learning new methods to reach them in the same way, it’s just taking more time,” Farley said.

     Finding new ways for students to learn is another drastic change teachers face. Luckily, there are many programs for teachers to use and Andy Guethle, physical education teacher, has found one that works for him.

     “I have used a workout app called Sworkit. It allows students to view good examples of someone doing the exercise and giving instructions,” he noted.

     Learning how to use these programs can also be a challenge. “Trying to learn about 50 new technology programs, at 3 a.m., while crying, curled up in the fetal position,” said Burkemper. 

     While not all teachers have been using new programs, others have done new things like creating videos.

     “I recently created a Youtube channel with all of my demos. Hopefully this will be useful even when we go back to in-person learning,” Wehling said.

     Despite all the challenges that come with virtual learning, teachers have managed to find methods to teach their students. While much of it may go unnoticed, this reporter sees all the tremendous work of her teachers and says thank you.