Nick Busciglio ’21
With Passaic Valley moving to a virtual model, students and staff are becoming more creative with their work spaces. Both teachers and students have invested time and resources to convert and build their home offices.
English Teacher Mrs. Jamie Picarelli converted her classroom to accommodate the virtual teaching while Passaic Valley was in the hybrid model. In her classroom, she connected two computer monitors with her projector. She did this so she can see her virtual students as well as her students in class at the same time. With some of her students virtual and some in class, she feels some will feel left out or not getting the same teaching experience. She’s converted her classroom to fix this problem and make sure all her students will get her time equally and efficiently. “I worry [virtual learning] is becoming very cut and paste,” Mrs. Picarelli explained, who mitigated her worries by slightly changing her teaching style. “I think one thing that virtual teaching has taught me is to be very flexible with my teaching.”
In addition to upgrading his setup in school to accommodate the demands of the hybrid model, Science Teacher Mr. Randall Sanders converted his living room into his home office. “I made an office in the middle of my living room that I have to set up every morning,” said Mr. Sanders. “I also use the TV in my living room as a second monitor for my computer. This allows me to teach on one screen and see my students on the other.”
Mr. Sanders wishes students would ask for help more often as he realizes online learning might be a difficult change for some students. As part of the Tech Team, Mr. Sanders is very grateful he was able to help other teachers and learn more himself about the virtual learning modality.
One component Mrs. Picarelli and Mr. Sanders miss the most about traditional teaching is their ability to connect with their students. They miss the discussions they would have with their classes and the pure human connection. For teachers, it’s hard to develop relationships with students through a camera.
As teachers convert their offices for virtual teaching, students likewise prepare their work spaces for virtual learning.
Senior Abigail Shaw has set up a space where she is able to learn distraction free. “I really make sure my working space is free of distractions so I can really focus on my work,” said Shaw. “I find it really hard not getting distracted when learning from home.”
She finds virtual learning pretty challenging as it is completely new to her. “It is a big transition from what I’m used to,” said Shaw. Although this is something she has never done, she is making the best of it and staying optimistic.
Senior Mia Basile has made her own home office. She bought a new desk that she sits at for virtual learning. She finds that working at a desk in a space with no distractions is best for her. “I find that being home I tend to waste valuable time not doing my work because I get distracted,” said Basile. “Sitting at my desk and being in a controlled space really helps me with that.” She finds that virtual learning can be tough at times, but with teachers being so understanding it really helps.