Students, teachers talk about online learning

Pre-AP English II teacher Steffannie Alter prepares for her first year of teaching.

Photos provided by Steffannie Alter

Pre-AP English II teacher Steffannie Alter prepares for her first year of teaching.

oBefore first period, AP Government and AP Micro and Macro Economics teacher Natalie Christian wakes up to another busy morning of being a mom and a teacher. She heads to her home workspace with a filled coffee mug in hand. 

Although her husband helps her by dropping off her son at daycare, she still has a long day of teaching ahead of her. 

“I have a 10-month-old son that has to get up,” Christian said.  “It’s a rush to get him and his bag ready for daycare, get proper for class, get my coffee, and get in front of my computer.” 

AP Government and Economics teacher Natalie Christian holds her son.  (Photos provided by Natalie Christian)

For Pre-AP English II teacher Steffannie Alter, the first week of school was filled with trials and errors. Getting used to new online platforms proved to be a challenge, but also a safer alternative. 

Alter prepared over the summer by reading course-related books and creating slideshows. 

Before classes, she prepares herself a nice breakfast and ensures that her cat is happy and fed. The aroma of a single, lit purple candle fills her room and she feels ready to start her day of teaching. 

 “The flexibility of the afternoon is wonderful,” Alter said. “I also think that because people are in their home and more comfortable, it can feel a little less intimidating to reach out to a teacher. The downside would be that I cannot tell if my students understand or are completely lost.” 

Alter feels confident that she can face the difficulties of an online environment.

“I keep a notebook with more extensive notes on who I’m supposed to send follow up emails to, which students have accommodations and who goes by a nickname,” Alter said. 

Christian recalled a confusing incident. During a class meeting, a non-Bellaire student randomly joined her class. 

 “He never said a word, orally or in the chat,”  Christian said. “When I noticed him, I removed him from the meeting, but he came back.” 

 Technological mishaps such as not hitting record or accidentally muting oneself create moments of awkwardness. Being late to class is no longer the same. 

 “I have an off period and then dance, so I took a nap and accidentally missed class,” senior Luna Chen said. “I was scared and shocked by the feeling of waking up and seeing the time, however, my teacher was cool about it.”

Chen said she misses in-person learning. 

“I feel like discussions were better in person and I left more engaged,” Chen said. 

Senior Luna Chen is dancing at an eMotions concert. (Photos provided by Jin Park)

Meanwhile, Acosta hopes to return to campus soon and interact with other new students. 

“I look forward to making friends and actually seeing them in person and not just as a black screen with their initials,” freshman Juan Acosta said. 

Teachers like Christian and Alter remain optimistic in hopes of encouraging students to do the same. 

“A new school year is always exciting,” Christian said. “I don’t think that has necessarily disappeared just, because we are on a computer.”