Teachers Adjust to Distance Learning


The past couple of months have been life-changing for people all around the world, and everyone here in New Mexico has also been touched by the epidemic. As for school, teachers have had to change the ways they teach, and students have had to change the ways they learn. This has not been easy for anyone. We hear a lot about how this affects students, but how are SFHS teachers handling the new learning environment?

Ms. Long, a ceramics teacher, has been posting an assignment every week on Open Access. The work she assigns relates to review and techniques that the students have been learning all year. Ms. Long, with no WiFi at home, had to rely upon school WiFi at first but has since gotten connected so she can effectively teach from home.

“Our wonderful Kate Gomez has helped tremendously,” Ms. Long says of Santa Fe High’s digital learning coach, who has aided students and teachers alike with their technical problems, fixing both minor annoyances and major tech issues.

Ms. Long says her students are adjusting well and there have only been a few from whom she “hasn’t heard a peep.”

It’s easy to imagine how frustrating it is for Ms. Barnes, a choir teacher, not to hear her students’ voices on a daily basis, but she’s also been trying to implement work online. “They’ve been working on sight-reading and then singing their part in a choral piece of music with a backing track that I provide in Google Classroom,” she explained.

Another problem that she has to deal with is poor internet. Ms. Barnes will play the piano in a group call with her students as they practice singing, but the poor connection will make it annoyingly challenging. But even with the setbacks, Ms. Barnes says most of her students are enjoying the “private lessons” they are receiving from her online.

Ms. Tullman-Kaltenbach is very familiar with online learning, having taught dress and fashion history online at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for 13 years. She teaches social studies now, and says it hasn’t been a hard technical transition. However, she adds, “I prefer to be in the classroom. A hybrid model of some online and some live would be ideal.”

“I don’t want people to be turned off because of the way we entered it,” Ms. K says. She does miss the social aspect of teaching but is comfortable as an online teacher.

Ms. Beach, a basketball coach as well as a P.E. teacher, also assigns work on Open Access. Her assignments include an intense workout video for students to do and a few reflective questions. Lately, she has been assigning less work since she knows most students are stressed with their other classes. She said she is unsure whether her students are even doing the workouts, but most do respond to the reflection.

Ms. Beach says that as long as her students are getting some sort of physical activity, she is happy. “I had never used Open Access before this quarter, so learning how to use it was somewhat difficult at the beginning, but I’m getting used to it now. I can get my modules done rather quickly for the week.”

Like almost every other teacher, Ms. Beach misses being with her students. “I really miss my students,” she says. “Not having interaction with them each day has been difficult and isolating.”