Opinion Blog

Classroom Q&A

With Larry Ferlazzo

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to lferlazzo@epe.org. Read more from this blog.

Teaching Opinion

Students Reflect on Their Distance Learning Experiences

By Larry Ferlazzo — May 06, 2020 6 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

(This is the second post in a multipart series. You can see Part One here.)

Here is the new question-of-the-week:

What has your online learning experience been as a student? What did you like about it? What didn’t you like about it? How does it compare with your experience as a student in a physical classroom? In the future, if you could choose, would you want to do more online learning? If so, why? If not, why not?

In Part One, five students from the high school where I teach in Sacramento, Calif., shared their reflections.

Today, the first three contributions come from students in Austin Green’s 1st grade class in Utah.

All other student commentators today work with Robert G Taylor, Ed.S., and Jon Harding at the Kansas State School for the Blind.

“I miss my teacher!”

Tristan Fitzgerald is a 1st grade student at Fremont Elementary School, age 6:

I’m doing good at online learning. I miss my friends. I spend lots of time at home. My sister distracts me!!! I miss my teacher! I’m doing the same things. It is harder because of my sister. I want to learn in the classroom because I would miss my teacher.

“School is over fast”

Sydni Buckner is a 1st grade student at Fremont Elementary School, age 7:

What I like about remote learning. First, school is over fast. Next, there’s no waiting on students and it’s quiet. Last, I like to use the computer. I like remote learning.

Carsen Gordon is a 1st grade student at Fremont Elementary School, age 7:

I have liked doing math with remote learning. I have also liked that it is shorter time than at school. My teacher is doing Zoom meetings to teach us. He has made it easy to understand the work I need to do. I would like to do more online learning.

“Learn at my own pace”

Jay Walker is a junior at Smithville High School in Smithville, Mo.:

At first, it was incredibly difficult transitioning from traditional high school to online learning, but gradually as the months go by I am slowly starting to get used to it. Though I feel like I’m not getting a good amount of social interaction from my peers, I find online learning to be much more beneficial for me as a student. Not being in the pressurized environment of a classroom gives me the opportunity to learn at my own pace, whether that be faster or slower than the original classroom, and if clarification is needed, I can simply rewind the lecture videos my teachers are putting out, or send an email to my teacher quickly and efficiently.

Being visually impaired in a high school Is challenging, next to navigating the hallways and putting a lot of trust into my technology for it to work properly that day, I feel as though my anxiety has dropped tremendously while being home, because if something were to go wrong with my tech, I can simply pause what I’m doing and fix it, and not have to worry about missing something or slowing the others down.

I would love to have online learning integrated into the natural high school environment, seeing as I am getting so much more done in such a shorter time, and I feel like I’m actually learning the material and not just grazing over it like I would in a standard classroom.

“I can more easily express what accommodations I need”

Rich Yamamoto is a junior at the Kansas State School for the Blind in Kansas City:

As a sophomore, I did a couple of online classes through my public school in Andover, while attending the Kansas State School for the Blind (KSSB). Those experiences compared to this year were less than pleasant, simply because at the time, I didn’t know what I was doing, and I tended to overwork myself silly. This year, we’re doing all of our classes via Zoom, and that’s greatly impacted my views on online learning. I’m always in constant verbal communication with my teachers, I can more easily express what accommodations I need, and I can get to know my teacher a lot better than if we were just communicating over a comment thread in Google Classroom or email. It’s much more relaxed now, and I must say, it’s rather enjoyable.

I don’t know if I would want to have more online learning in the future because if I’m being truly honest, I like the look and feel of a regular classroom sometimes. However, that doesn’t mean that I would be opposed to doing assignments online; I just want the instruction to be in a classroom, because it’s nice to know that you’re truly not the only one who may be lost. Unfortunately, because of the time we are living in right now, online learning is becoming more of a necessity if we want to keep on learning the skills that we learn in the classroom, and something tells me that due to updates in technology, online learning is going to be a lot more prevalent even after this pandemic is over.

Oral commentaries from a podcast

Patrick Wilson Jr., Mara Hug, and Rich Yamamoto (the same student who wrote the preceding contribution) are hosts of Discover Podcasting at the Kansas State School for the Blind.

Rich (Junior) is an all-around student, participating in sports; forensics; and is popular with others students and adults for his willingness to help others.

Patrick (Freshman) loves being creative and trying anything new in technology. He loves talking about technology and amazes us on the topics he is familiar with.

Mara (Freshman) loves to read and spend time with her friends. She has used a variety of technologies and loves to apply them with everyday challenges.

Here is their podcast titled “Distance Learning Reflections From the Students’ Point Of View”:

Thanks to Tristan, Sydni, Carsen, Jay, Rich, Patrick, and Mara for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment with your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at lferlazzo@epe.org. When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog, along with new material, in an e-book form. It’s titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

Just a reminder, you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email or RSS Reader. And if you missed any of the highlights from the first eight years of this blog, you can see a categorized list below. The list doesn’t include ones from this current year, but you can find those by clicking on the “answers” category found in the sidebar.

This Year’s Most Popular Q&A Posts

Race & Gender Challenges

Classroom-Management Advice

Best Ways to Begin the School Year

Best Ways to End the School Year

Implementing the Common Core

Student Motivation & Social-Emotional Learning

Teaching Social Studies

Cooperative & Collaborative Learning

Using Tech in the Classroom

Parent Engagement in Schools

Teaching English-Language Learners

Reading Instruction

Writing Instruction

Education Policy Issues


Differentiating Instruction

Math Instruction

Science Instruction

Advice for New Teachers

Author Interviews

Entering the Teaching Profession

The Inclusive Classroom

Learning & the Brain

Administrator Leadership

Teacher Leadership

Relationships in Schools

Professional Development

Instructional Strategies

Best of Classroom Q&A

Professional Collaboration

Classroom Organization

Mistakes in Education

Project-Based Learning

I am also creating a Twitter list including all contributors to this column.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.