Technology is supposed to make distance learning easier during the pandemic, but sometimes it can be absolutely exhausting.
Parents are posting photos of their kids struggling to use Zoom during their virtual lessons. The expressions and their body language say it loud and clear—they’re over Zoom and just want everything to be over already. Bored Panda has collected the best such pics that embody the feeling of ‘Monday,’ so scroll down and upvote your fave ones.
Remote learning is a challenge for everyone involved: the kids, their parents, as well as their teachers. And all of them have to adapt to the ‘new normal’ because not every kindergarten and school is holding classes in-person. We wanted to learn more about how to fight ‘Zoom fatigue’ and what the benefits of in-person classes, when compared to distance learning, were, so Bored Panda reached out to trained primary school teachers Tom Rose and Jack Pannett. Read on for their insights and for our interview with young adult author, Kara McDowell, whose photo of her kindergartner son has been making waves all over the net.
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The Zoom videoconferencing app has seen huge growth during the coronavirus pandemic and exceeded all expectations. The BBC reports that its revenues soared 355 percent to a whopping 663.5 million dollars during the second quarter of 2020. Customer growth rocketed 458 percent and profits rose 186 million dollars compared to the same time a year before.
Even though the app is both useful and popular, it doesn’t mean that it’s perfect or that we’re built to use it so much. So-called ‘Zoom exhaustion’ or ‘Zoom fatigue’ is a relatively new phenomenon that parents and students alike are vulnerable to: constant video calls and a lack of physical interaction with people are mentally tiring.
Primary school teachers Tom and Jack shared some great tips on how young students can avoid feeling mentally drained from using Zoom. They suggest maintaining good posture, taking movement breaks between lessons, and keeping the brightness of the screen at appropriate levels. However, that’s not all.
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Bored Panda also spoke to young adult author and Arizona mom-of-three, Kara McDowell, whose photo of her kindergartner son has been a real hit online. She revealed that distance learning has been difficult for her 5-year-old son for several reasons, including “endless” problems with technology.
“His lessons often freeze, stall, or cut out in the middle, leaving us both frustrated. It’s also disappointing for him not to be able to see or converse with friends, and to sit on mute through a school day, especially when he’s excited or has something he wants to share with his teacher.”
For Kara, the main advantage of in-person classes is that they’re not on a screen. “As a parent, I’ve worked so hard to limit my son’s screen time, and now he’s getting several hours of it every day. Traditionally, schooling also has the advantage of social interaction and a teacher who is present to engage the student’s attention and explain concepts and homework if they’re confused.”
Kara added that teachers are working hard to make the best out of a bad situation, however, she’s looking forward to the day that all kids can safely go back to their classrooms.
“A more technical tip is to remove the option for your child to look at their own camera. Have a play with the functions, perhaps turn it off or make it very small on your screen if you can’t turn it off on certain software. Having your own camera on your screen provides the opportunity to look in a mirror whilst being taught, which is very distracting and draining,” Tom and Jack said. “We’ve noticed some pupils judging their appearance, moving their hair, and so on, looking at themselves more than us.”
They added that parents ought to help their children become more independent by not fixing all of their problems for them. Counterintuitive? Maybe a tad. But they have a point.
“Children can often fix their own problems if you give them the tools and confidence to do so. What they might be lacking here is the time to talk and develop their own vocabulary for their feelings. So, without leading them to come to your conclusions, allow them to discuss what they enjoyed, what they didn’t enjoy, and ask how these things made them feel. Children may prefer to describe their feelings more physically for example, ‘It felt like my tummy was tight.’ Giving them a safe forum for self-reflection is often a very positive approach.”
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Teaching and learning virtually, while convenient, don’t have the same pros that in-person classes do. For instance, it’s far easier to see if your students understand something through their body language and facial expressions if you’re teaching them in person.
“Online learning has forced some good teachers to have to tirelessly ask things like, ‘Does this make sense?’ or, ‘Stop me if I’m going too fast,’ to make up for the lack of their ability to ‘scan the room.’ Most good teachers interact with social cues from the class, so it’s a bit like being a comedian with a blurry, buffering audience—you never really have the synchronicity of an in-person lesson. Therefore, a lot of children have been ‘coasting’ through online lessons, not fully understanding what’s being taught.”
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Other experts agree that videoconferencing isn’t a perfect substitute for in-person classes. “Zoom is one of the platforms we use to try and fill the communication void. [It is a] poor substitute for face-to-face communication,” Memorial Regional Healthcare System chief of the department of psychiatry Daniel Bober told Parents.com.
According to him, certain social cues are “out of sync” when using videoconferencing apps and we’re left feeling irritated and anxious.
Bober adds that telephone calls might possibly be a valid alternative to Zoom calls because people are less stressed when they don’t feel like they’re being “watched” or that they have to “perform.” With that in mind, switching off your kid’s camera might help them feel less tired.