Online Memoir Part Two: An Educator’s Reflection

Tutoring in a two-dimensional screen

     This week I smiled and inwardly chuckled as the kids spoke to each other through their computer's microphone. How has teaching changed from walking into a three-dimensional classroom to logging onto a two-dimensional platform?

For one, the teacher's blackboard or chalkboard is replaced with a dominant whiteboard. I felt both the chalkboard and whiteboard are dominant teaching and learning tools in two different spaces. My past 3D classroom positioned the chalkboard at the front and separated me from my students. While my present whiteboard was positioned in the middle of the online screen. It connects my students and me closely together. The two experience: teacher in classroom and teacher online feels different but seems familiar. The blackboard feels different from the whiteboard since you can touch one but not the other. However, it seems familiar as both are tools used by a teacher. Finally, as a classroom teacher, I feel as if learning to and engaging in online tutoring is becoming my way to teach (natural, second skin). I sit at my computer, log into the platform and teach children in a two-dimensional flat page. The strangeness fell off some time back.

Somethings Don't Change

     Look! children will be children in three-dimensional or two- dimensional spaces. If you interact with kids over time in a positive and encouraging space they will gravitate to you as a person. As a result, my kids removed their mouth restraints and became more familiar. They are presently unafraid to be their selves. Thus, our sessions now include friendly back and forth banter that has nothing to do with mathematics ( I am not complaining). At points during our conversations, they dare I say it, erase my presence. As such, I put on my teacher hat and become the disciplinarian (something my classroom teacher self would do). I have to shush them to keep the focus. This is my way of saying that we are bonding together in our two-dimensional space that is like a three-dimensional classroom.

Not Everything Is Smooth Sailing

     In this respect, online tutoring is not like classroom teaching. As a classroom teacher, my chalkboard never froze or stopped working. Also, it never slowly recorded my writing as I moved across its surface with my chalk. You see I controlled how fast or slow I wrote on the chalkboard. Not so with my computer. If my computer freezes or slows down, I am at its mercy. Therefore, cultivating habits like patience, long-suffering, and perseverance is required to work online. The technical problems that plague online tutoring make the venture discouraging and troublesome. We have recently experienced many technical issues that disrupt but does not stop our sessions. This is an unfortunate fixture to the online teaching experience but it is not the only one.

Tricia Herbert (Educator)

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