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An Opportunity That Changed My Perspective
Written by Racheal Chung | Published. 2021.02.11 14:18 | Count : 91

Our lives have been greatly affected since last year. The number of COVID-19 cases exponentially grew, which caused the schools and academies to close temporarily. Not only that, but many people were laid off from their jobs. At this point, it is tough to meet someone outside because of the social distancing level. However, we cannot just let go of all the things we did before everything happened. People eventually found a way to continue with their lives. For students, the answer was distance learning. 

Needless to say, my school is also holding a zoom meeting for all classes. At first, I was very delighted because I no longer had to wake up early in the morning, and I loved the fact that I can stay home the whole time. I also asked some of my friends who are currently attending a Korean school to find out the difference. My friends had pre-recorded classes so that they can listen to the lecture at any time. They told me that this helped them save some time, because they do not have to physically go to their school. A comfortable environment and the fact that they can take the lecture at any time were the other two advantages they mentioned. The funny thing is that me and my friends did not think about how the teachers feel about teaching us online. 

However, I was soon able to emphasize with the teachers worldwide. I ran across a post looking for student volunteers who could teach younger children once a week. Since I wanted to become a teacher when I was younger, I thought this would be an opportunity to experience how teaching feels. I signed up as an English teacher, and I had to teach a fourth grader via Skype. 

As a volunteer, I was responsible for all the lesson schedules and homework for the student. Before our first class, I thought I could finish everything perfectly. With zero experience using Skype, reading the instructions on the internet just in case really assured me. But when I started, I had to use some time figuring out how to record and share my screen. 

[Screenshot of the recording of my class. Photo courtesy of Racheal Chung]

Although I got used to Skype after a few classes, there were some issues regarding the network system. After I started sharing my screen, my student had to wait a few minutes to see the contents, such as the word list or the workbook, on her screen. Furthermore, every time I wanted to share a video with her, she could not hear the audio from the video. The worst part was that sometimes it was difficult to communicate because of the statics and disconnection of the audio. 

Since I was always in the student’s place, I never thought about how challenging this situation would be as a teacher. After a few weeks of teaching, I was already so worn out and exhausted. As a student, I could only think of the positive sides of distance learning. However, as a teacher, I felt like online classes have a lot of restrictions than physical classes. I could not check if the student finished her homework properly, and I was unsure if she was engaging in the class. Not only that, but I also could not share physical copies of the class materials that I have made. Even though I am continuing the class and using different platforms to make the hour of English more entertaining, I now understand why my teachers desperately wanted physical classes back. 

[A picture of me teaching via Skype. Photo courtesy of Racheal Chung]

The worldwide pandemic has given me a chance to experience the teacher’s point of view, and understand their hardship and difficulties teaching through Zoom and Skype. And even though sometimes it is a burden to prepare for my class, I was able to find a way to make challenging materials easier for younger students who are not yet familiar with English. Despite the negative impacts of COVID-19, I believe that this experience gave me a chance to stand in both the instructor’s and the learner’s shoes.

 









Racheal Chung 
Grade 10
Seoul Scholars International

Racheal Chung  student_reporter@dherald.com

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