Students and Teachers Adapt to Learning on Camera

Alex Mancuso , News Editor

After over 6 months of online learning, students and teachers have had to adapt to this new style of learning on google meets. This includes turning on cameras in class, which members of the community have different opinions on. 

Students have admitted that sometimes turning on cameras in class can be awkward, especially if you are not “camera-ready”. Ninth-grader Livia Elswick had said, “In most classes I don’t have my camera on because I feel awkward and as if people are staring at me.” 

Lainey Schmitter, a tenth grader, similarly mentioned, “turning on my camera makes me uncomfortable, sometimes because I look like I just got out of bed.” Schmitter also talks about how she also feels as though on google meets it can feel more intimidating as if people are watching, compared to in-person school where everyone looks at the front, “I don’t want everyone staring at me instead of in a normal classroom where we all pay attention to the front of class.” 

Ninth-grader Nick Versis said that he doesn’t turn his camera because he is normally in bed or doing other things, “most of the time I’m either in bed or doing something else.” 

In terms of how many students have their cameras on in class, a poll was launched on the Crofton Cardinals website. Results have shown that out of 48 votes, 33 have responded saying that 1-4 students have their cameras on in at least one class, and 8 people responded saying that 5-10 people have their cameras on in at least one class. 

Out of those interviewed, responses are similar. Music teacher Mr. Erick Vonsas said that between 2 and 5 students have their cameras on during class. World Language teacher Ms. Ninette Beheler said that “I would like to say that many students have their cameras on, but the reality is that only a couple of students adhere to this rule.” 

Looking closely into which classes have the highest number of cameras on, students responded saying their athletic classes, which require the teachers to see them moving as a part of their grade, have the highest number of cameras. Elswick said, “I only turn my camera on in my dance class because my teacher has to see my dancing and moving.” She also mentioned that “Out of the class I take, dance company has the most cameras turned on. I think this is because my teacher really tries to connect with us and of course we need to show us dancing.”

Versis also shared a similar point of view saying, “I would say my athletic classes like gym or dance for athletes class have the most cameras on because it’s part of our grade” 

Now looking at a different point of view, teachers have expressed their feelings towards students not having their cameras on in class. Ms. Beheler talked about how it is hard to make connections with students when they don’t have their cameras on, “Since I can’t see facial expressions, I can’t tell if kids are with me, engaged or bored.” However, Ms. Behler said she stays positive and open-minded, trying to also understand how it must be like for students, “I know that many students feel self-conscious and on top of that are suffering from the effects of being isolated for an extended period of time.” 

On top of that Ms. Behler said she is trying to show that you don’t have to look perfect to have your camera,  “I also never get too dressed up as I try to demonstrate that you can just be yourself” 

Mr. Vonsas also said that it is hard when students have their cameras off but wants students to feel comfortable, “I would love more student engagement, but I would rather students be comfortable. If they are engaged with their camera on, that’s great. If they are being active in the chat and unmuting, that is also great.” 

Overall, for students and teachers alike, distance learning has been challenging, and making connections has not been easy.