Distant learning and teaching

Logan Gauthier, Writer

After almost two weeks of distant learning, students and teachers are starting to put together an organized schedule and daily routine. With the main connection of communication now being through emails and google meets, it has become harder for students and teachers to interact on a regular basis.

Although students and teachers would rather be in the classroom, distance learning still provides students with a positive learning environment.  Owatonna High School Principal Mr. Kory Kath said, “I have seen and experienced incredible learning that is happening online with our students and staff. It is very different from what we are used to when we are all together in our classroom but the value of the content is still there.”

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Ms. Schroeder’s office set-up in her home where she does all of her teaching

Distance teaching can be a lot of work for teachers because not only do they need to make lesson plans, they also need to upload all instructions and paperwork every day. OHS teachers on average are spending almost two hours a day preparing for their classes. Along with the paperwork, many teachers upload videos that provide instructions on the lesson being taught. During this tough time, teachers are working hard to make sure their students have the best opportunities to succeed. Kath said, “There is definitely stress in managing your learning at home or creating a course online but our hope is that students feel supported and know that we want them to be well as we go through this process.”

Online learning causes many challenges, not only for students but also for teachers with kids of their own. OHS math teacher Ms. Emily Schroeder said, “It is challenging being home with my kids, helping them with their school work, and being there for my students as well.” Senior Kenzie Mullenbach, who is in Ms. Schroeder’s AP Calculus class, said, “(Ms. Schroeder) is very organized and makes the class easy to learn and fun to participate in, even through distance learning. She is always there to help us with any questions.” Since teachers are such a major part of the future, they have been given emergency childcare for their own kids.  In many math classes, teachers are using video notes to try and teach students. Schroeder said, “For the most part, my classes are getting content via video notes that I make. I am trying to really focus on the most essential content so that I can shorten up lessons while still getting them the information they need.”

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An OHS student in Mrs. Pittman’s Foods 1 class making a smoothie in her kitchen

With most elective classes being hands- on or needing computer software, staff has been creative with getting kids to continue performing activities needed for the class. Mr. Scott Seykora, who teaches Computer Graphics, uses computers in class every day with software that most students are unable to download. Seykora said, “I found an online program that I am using with my graphics students. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles that Photoshop has, but it is at least something.”

Teachers in gym and cooking classes are having students continue to cook and exercise by having students send pictures or workout programs. OHS Family and Consumer Science teacher, Mrs. Connie Pittman said, “In my Foods 1 class, so far, I’ve given them an option to make smoothies as an introductory lab.” Students want to continue building as many life skills as possible and be hands-on. Pittman also said, “I am concerned that they won’t learn everything that I normally expect them to but am just going to be ‘ok’ with them learning as much as possible.”


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I give all the credit in the world to the students for being understanding, resilient, and creative in figuring this all out together. I look forward to the day we can get back in the classroom.”

— Mr. Seykora

Computer graphics requires a lot of face to face interactions to be able to help students learn and understand the different tools needed. Seykora said, “I give all the credit in the world to the students for being understanding, resilient, and creative in figuring this all out together. I look forward to the day we can get back in the classroom.” Senior Max Degrood, who is in a foods class, said, “Each day we analyze recipes and make food at our house, but class would be much more entertaining if we were in the classroom.”

Students and teachers continue to work together each day in order to get through this tough time. Although it may be nice to be at home, most students and teachers would rather be back in the classroom interaction and learning face to face.