Professing in a Pandemic

(Seton Hill Pa.) – “Zoom is here to stay, and I am happy to do whatever it takes,” said Professor Von Schlichten. “The biggest challenge, not surprisingly, has been dealing with zoom.”

 In 2020, Seton Hill, like most colleges sent home their students and began hosting online classes via Zoom. Even now, when most colleges are having in-person classes, Zoom is still being used for students who are unable to attend class. 

“I think it’s good that we are using zoom. I definitely want to make zoom available to students,” said Von Schlichten. “I almost always have at least some students on zoom, so I have to be mindful of them and make sure they are included.” 

Seton Hill has also been dealing with WiFi issues recently which has led to some technical issues on campus. “Earlier today, for instance, I had students on zoom and they kept getting kicked off because we were having trouble with the internet,” said Von Schlicten. 

Internet issues are not the only problem some professors have with zoom. “When students decide to put their cameras off, I have no way to see how they are reacting or if they are getting the material at all,” said Professor Reyna. “I like to move around the class and now almost every day there is at least one student who needs to follow remotely and if I move or I write something on the board that person is not going to be able to see it from his or her home.”

“I have to make sure of course whatever I share in the classroom zoomers can hear and see as well,” said Professor Von Schlicten. “Another little thing is I like to walk around the room a lot and when I’m on zoom I can’t do that.”

Seton Hill has also currently implemented the policy of having all staff and students wear a mask at all times on campus. “For a language class, you need to be a model of conversation,” said language professor, Reyna. “The students should be able to see your lips when they are moving. I think the mask is a deterrent. Sometimes students don’t hear well because my voice doesn’t project. That is one reason why I am always wearing this machine,” Professor Reyna said while gesturing to the microphone and speaker around her neck. “I know that I have a particular hoarse voice, so it doesn’t carry very well, especially with the mask.” 

Zoom can also cause problems if you come from a loud household or have a lot of family members who are in school as well. “I have my daughter in school, my husband is also a teacher, so sometimes it is hard to juggle when you have classes via zoom and there are also two people in your house having classes,” said Professor Reyna. 

According to Corse Hero, a survey showed more than 40% of faculty have considered leaving their job as a result of the pandemic. 

“Sometimes it easy to get down or frustrated, but overall I think I have done pretty well and I think I am somebody who adapts well to things,” said Professor Von Schlichten. “I think overall it has not had a big impact on my mental health.”

Professors are not the only people affected by the pandemic, of course. According to The Guardian students returning for their second year of college fell in 2020 to its lowest level since 2012 “I don’t want to speak for my colleagues, but I am gonna hazard a guess that most of us would say more students are struggling now than before,” said Von Schlichten “The pandemic adds a lot of stress and logistical challenges so I definitely think students are having a harder time. I think most of them are giving it their all. It’s just a really difficult time in the history of the world and makes it harder to learn.”

By: Ashley Grasinger