Online School Makes it Harder to Connect.

During these hard and complicated times, we have the tendency to forget about everything else around us, besides our own views and what is happening to us personally. 

Our worldview and lives are now made up of Google documents, Zoom calls, weak connections with others and silent break out rooms. Who would have ever thought of that one year ago? 

If one year ago, someone told me that my Latin teacher in Italy, in a few months, would have made full hours of lessons online, I would have laughed at them. My Latin teacher? Impossible. He reads Cicero and ancient authors in his free time; he hates technology more than anything else in this world. He refuses to use the computer and the digital whiteboard in class. 

A few months later, I had to wake up every morning with a new email from him, giving us the link for the Zoom call for that day’s lesson. Times change, I guess. 

All of us are focused on our own point of view, complaining about how most of us struggle with online school, not because of the work, but because of how hard it is to adapt to new habits, new ways to learn and communicate, new ways to show participation. I feel like many of us completely forgot about our teachers, on the other side of the screen. 

I feel like none of us really asked himself how it is like to be on the other side of the screen. Do teachers feel insecure about how they look in the camera? How was it for them at the beginning of all of this? I think a lot about the elderly teachers and the fear they must have had.

The answer is that yes, it happens to them as well. I lost count of how many times a teacher apologized for the way they looked in the morning while on a Zoom call. It sounded so weird, hearing a teacher say sorry about his looks. The first time, I was so surprised, and I thought: Apologizing for the way I look, that’s something I would surely do, but… A teacher? Why?

Online classes make everyone much more self-conscious: seeing yourself in that little corner of the screen; it is really hard for some people. But teachers struggle with it as well.  

How about the sense of loneliness that sometimes assails us during class? We’re all focused on the lesson and suddenly you realize that you’re alone in your room, staring at a screen. So are all of your classmates at that moment. It’s a weird feeling. But it happens to teachers, too, and sometimes even more so.

Talking with many of my teachers, the main answer that I got while asking them how they felt about teaching through Zoom call, is that it is very “lonely”. It’s crazy to think, but teachers are used to spending a big part of their day in classes filled with students, their voices and laughs. 

Now, in most cases, what they see is a black screen or a little square with a face that they can barely see. One of the other responses I got was that they get self-conscious about the way they talk or express themselves. Crazy, right? In my head, teachers were always the ones with impeccable language skills. I am the one who gets insecure while talking with them. How is it possible that they are? 

The answer is pretty obvious: alone in a room, talking with a screen, you actually start to listen way too much to your own words, getting critical about your every behavior. It’s sort of like when you are in a group picture. Everyone sees the picture and gets critical of themselves and the way they look. You think you look weird in the picture, while everybody turned out perfectly fine. But the person next to you probably thinks they are the one who turned out weird-looking while you look good. 

This is something I realized just recently. No one will pay the same attention to you the same way as you do.  Probably no one will notice the tone you used in a certain sentence. 

Overall, online schooling, and in general, this new virtual way of meeting, it’s an accurate mirror that reflects pretty well some behavior of our modern society.