How Online Teaching is Affecting Performing Arts Teachers

Coronavirus Brings Highschool Broadcast Class to a Halt


by Rosalind Cruz, Contributor

Teaching classes can be hard but some teachers quite enjoy the hard work that goes into class. “I love the live broadcasts and the energy as the staff prepares to go live.  It’s a one-shot show, no retakes,” says Broadcast teacher, Jeff Schmitt, as he speaks of the times he was able to teach in-person. He has a certain glimmer in his eyes as he talks about those days. Schmitt smiles as he speaks of his prior days of teaching in-person classes. He has warm eyes and light brown hair, though he covers most of it with a beanie. 

 “I miss the students. Teaching to a screen is not the same,” he states about the hardships of an online classroom. Anyone could hear the eagerness to get back to the classroom in his low, crisp voice.

Schmitt Work Space (Jeff Schmitt)

He speaks of one of his many memories of the broadcast class “One year for our last live broadcast we had all the seniors jam into the studio, and they sang a song.  One of my students played the guitar and it all worked, it was an awesome way to end the year.  The seniors were getting emotional, and a few tears were shed.” He felt it was amazing that everyone could just get along and mesh well together. Everyone had fun and had no worries. No one had any clue of the year to come.

 Soon after, tragedy struck, leaving everyone in shambles. Schmitt said “This year has been a challenge for Broadcast” with a somber tone in his words. He explains that it is difficult to teach a class that relies on filming and collaboration with others.  His other classes are also affected from the lack of students having the best resources possible to really get an understanding of the class. Online teaching gets more complicated when it’s all online. He has been teaching this specific class, broadcast, for about six years among his other classes such as photography and yearbook.

He’s always been an artistic person what with being a professional photographer for 18 years, he even teaches classes other than broadcast such as photography and yearbook. He has even commented that he “could see (himself) working as a professional again someday.” He has many years of experience and this is just one of those years in which he cannot do what he loves most without any risks attached. You could only imagine how hard this could be on a person who is inspired by the outside world, someone who seeks expression in art of all sorts. 

“Putting together a project and having the control over all the aspects, video clips, transitions, sound, etc… and watching it all come together is awesome,” is another thing Schmitt is considerably fond of. He seems to be hopeful we’ll be able to come back to school and resume in-class teaching. He speaks about how heavy the online classroom is on everyone included.

Students appear to have no motivation for anything. Grades are dropping for students, even in easier classes. Teachers aren’t able to foster a relationship with students. Some don’t even know what their students look like because of the lack of cameras being on during Google Meets. He appears to want to go back to traditional teaching to bring back some joy and give the audience their “first post- COVID broadcast.” This is a peculiar situation, not one that many people will go through in their lifetimes, however, he makes the best of it.