Guest Post: Zoom School

The New Way Kids Are Learning During the Coronavirus Pandemic

BY: Eric M. Earle, founder of Tutor Portland and Tutor San Francisco, and co-founder of

The Coronavirus crisis has forced schools to shutter and move to the Internet, and some students are realizing they have to visit their tutors through the screen too. With a new way of schooling comes a new set of challenges. This article will discuss how best to navigate the world of online schooling and the pros and cons of online tutoring vs. in-person tutoring.

Online school is the logical answer when in-person classes can’t take place. It allows education to continue without missing a beat when most the population is stuck at home. However, classes over Zoom aren’t a perfect solution for everyone.

Online Classes

Online classes have created an inequality for children across the nation. Kids now need easy access to computers, a stable internet connection, and a quiet space where they can focus. This is more doable for some students than others. According to data from the Pew Research Center, only 56% of adults earning below $30,000 a year report having broadband internet at home. This likely means the only access to the internet available for children in these homes is through a smartphone. Therefore, some students are reading, completing assignments, taking tests, and attending classes all on a tiny little smartphone screen.

To compound this inequality, teaching abilities vary greatly from school to school. The efficacy of an online class depends in large part on the computer literacy and technological savvy of teachers. While there are some teachers who excel in translating classroom material into online formats, the same cannot be said for every teacher. There are teachers who are masters at engaging kids in the classroom, but just cannot get the knack of online classes. They might struggle to monitor whether students are engaged, motivate the class with fun activities, or upload assignments in a way that is easily accessible.

Connecting online is not just up to the teachers. Students need to have additional discipline to focus their attention on the screen for the entire school day without leaving class for an online game or media service. The distraction and temptation to play video games or text friends while at school is much greater when school is online and the teacher can’t monitor students as closely.

Online Tutoring

With all of these new challenges presented by online learning, one solution that has come to the forefront is online tutoring. Tutoring can help fill in the gaps left by online classes, giving students one-on-one attention from tutors, filling in kids’ down time, and helping take pressure off burdened parents.

As students are finding it easier to fall behind in online class due to decreased levels of focus and decreased attention from teachers. Online tutors can be a great way to get them back on track. Students who might not feel comfortable speaking out in Zoom classes might feel more comfortable asking their questions in a one-on-one tutoring session. This way, students break down difficult subjects and regain academic confidence.

Even if a student is not falling behind, online tutoring can fill time that would otherwise be spent on video games or social media. More advanced students may quickly get bored with online school, finding it easy to complete assignments ahead of time and spend less time engaged in the classroom. Online tutoring can be a great way to bring back that engagement. Plus, if a student has a certain interest in science or art, online tutoring in a specific subject can nourish those interests in talents similarly to after school activities.

Online Tutoring Vs. In Person Tutoring

The benefits of online tutoring are clear. Tutoring sessions take place safely in isolation and require no risk of contracting the virus. Online sessions save time and money that would be spent on commuting. Online tutoring allows students and tutors the flexibility to hold sessions anywhere, making it easier to fit into a busy schedule.

Some students may also be more comfortable meeting with their tutor online instead of face-to-face. Shy students or students with anxiety may feel more at ease and confident learning in an environment they are familiar with as opposed to going to a new location and having a potentially awkward first formal meeting with a tutor.

Other clear positives for online tutoring are the quality and availability of potential tutors. The internet is full of well–qualified and well-educated tutors from all over the world who can connect with students quickly. The options are much more limited if students decide to go for in-person tutoring, as they are limited to local tutors within driving distance and their specific hours.

However, there are benefits of in-person tutoring too. In-person tutoring is set up to help students focus. By going to a specific location designated for learning, students are encouraged to focus. Sitting down with someone in-person inhibits distractions like phones, social media, and TV. There are also more tangible study methods available when tutoring occurs in-person. Tutors can utilize objects like flash cards and counting blocks for math lessons. These techniques can be great ways to demonstrate concepts in a clear and memorable way as the students can clearly see and touch the demonstrative objects in a way that couldn’t be accomplished over Zoom.

What’s Best for My Student?

Online and in-person tutoring both provide a multitude of benefits to your student’s academic experience. Whether in-person or online tutoring is best for your student depends on a few factors. If you or your student already have a busy schedule and little time to spare for commuting to a tutoring location, online tutoring may be your best bet. But if your student demonstrates great difficulty staying focused over Zoom, in-person tutoring would likely be a better option. Plus, the coronavirus may have closed many businesses in your area including in-person tutoring options. For this reason, safety and accessibility are both improved with online tutoring options.

Whatever tutoring approach you choose, finding the right tutor it is certain to improve your student’s performance!

If you found this post helpful, check out some of my other posts:

Keeping track of parent contact

Teacher gifts during quarantine

A script for how to call a parent during school closure

Recommended reading for future/new teachers

Or Start Here to check out my posts curated by theme.

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A Teacher's Guide

I am a National Board Certified educator currently teaching in Virginia. I have taught the following: English 9, 10, 11, and 12 (on academic, collaborative, and honors levels); Dual Enrollment English; Mass Communications, Yearbook, Newspaper, and Communications Technology. I have experience in five different school systems, four in Virginia and one in Maryland. I served as my school’s 2019 Teacher of the Year and was a top five finalist for the Teacher of the Year for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. I am passionate about recruiting and retaining quality educators in our public schools. Let me help you find your path to changing lives through teaching!

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