COVID-19: Is Remote Teaching Easier or Harder than Regular Teaching?

After day three of remote teaching, I’ve decided it is neither easier nor harder than regular teaching. It’s certainly incredibly different than regular classroom teaching, but for each thing that is easier, there’s another aspect which is more difficult.

Things which are easier:

  • Classroom management: You know that kid who usually talks incessantly through class? Zoom has a quick fix – mute everyone for the lesson. And actually, I’ve found that I don’t even have to because the kids are much more quiet than usual. Also, you no longer have to worry about seating arrangements!
  • Checking-in with students: This one surprised me. I actually have found it’s incredibly awesome to do 1-on-1 checks with students via chat or even verbally, and the other kids respect the individual time and don’t interrupt.
  • Student bathroom breaks: For some reason in school it seems students *HAVE* to use the bathroom every 15 minutes. Turns out, they can easily make it through a whole class without asking you when they’re at home!

Things which are more difficult:

  • Collecting, grading, and returning assignments: I’m still working on this one. I’ve devised a strategy to have my students upload pictures of their work via Google Forms, but I still don’t know the most effective way to give them feedback. I’m thinking if I took the time to set up a Google Classroom this would fix many of my issues, but for now I’m in bare-minimum mode.
  • Note-taking: I love the notes I usually use in my Algebra 1 class. I have a beautiful little template for students to fill out every day. Now, because not all of my students have printers at home (I upload the blank and filled-out copies of notes to their online gradebook), we’re taking notes the old-fashioned way and writing every little thing by hand.
  • Timing: This one surprised me, too! I thought I’d be rushed for time teaching online, and while that’s true for notes (they take MUCH longer now), our independent work time feels endless. I’m not constantly walking around the room checking on papers and adding tips and corrections here and there. Instead, I sit and stare at the kids on my screen, waiting for them to ask me individual questions, and avoiding asking them every minute if they need help. The other thing about timing, too, is that after a few years (or weeks, even!) of teaching you kind-of get a feel for how much time has passed. Now though, my internal “teacher clock” is off. What felt like 10 minutes of direct instruction was 20 and what felt like 15 minutes of independent work time was one!!

My adjustment to this new style of teaching is still very much in progress. I’m trying to embrace the easier parts and continue working on solutions for the difficult aspects. If you have any ideas, as always, please let me know!

Wishing you health, safety, and happiness,


3 thoughts on “COVID-19: Is Remote Teaching Easier or Harder than Regular Teaching?

  1. For providing feedback, I love what Andrew Burnett does with video feedback: There’s dozens of platforms for posting/uploading videos. If you have a tablet or iPad, you could comment on the work directly as you screencast and record your comments (or stick to the commenting if the video is too much).

    When the individual videos got to be too much, I reviewed student work, wrote up a thorough answer key, and recorded myself going through it and noting common mistakes and errors. Students thought this was sufficient and still super helpful.

    For note-taking… it sounds like you’re already doing a lot of great things but what’s holding you back now is just the practical aspect of printing… how hard would it be to mail packets home? I heard of some districts doing that. Anyways… here’s my favorite resource for note-taking: maybe you can find something in there I haven’t thought of. You may also find it validating!

    For timing, maybe set a timer? I use online stopwatch in the classroom and project the time for everyone to see. I dunno how to replace walking around the room… When I taught math, my students did independent practice on whiteboards around the room. I’m envisioning each student turning their camera into a document camera so you can see their work but I don’t know how feasible that is. Could you take turns working with students 1-on-1 and having them talk through their thinking as they work? Or maybe posting worked out answer keys so they can at least check their work as they go?

    Also I’m not surprised about the reduced bathroom breaks. When we moved to having 10 minute passing periods and other changes in our bell schedule, bathroom requests went down. I imagine being at home has a similar effect. It may also be the novelty of online learning? Dunno.

    Could you share more about how the 1-on-1 checks work?


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