English Teacher Dawn Murray Teaches Virtual Classes Full-Time


Credit to Designed by Ashlynn Perez

After the outbreak of COVID-19, schools have been forced to adapt to new safety measures. This is why FHSD introduced virtual instruction this year. This in-depth package explores the difference between traditional in-person learning and learning online.

By Aadhi Sathiskumar

Improvising and learning how to adapt have always been skills necessary to be a teacher. Teachers are expected to work no matter what obstacles come their way, as shown in the fourth quarter of last year. Instead of not teaching classes because of the pandemic, they instead decided to try teaching class virtually; something very few of them knew how to do. Dawn Murray, an English teacher who has been teaching for 18 years, went virtual during the fourth quarter of last year and remains a full virtual teacher to this day, accomodating for the students that chose virtual learning in the district

“I chose to do it because I found the challenge intriguing,” Murray said. “I realized the district was in a bind and I thought I’d throw my name in the hat.”

Having only taught virtually in the fourth quarter before this year, Murray was a bit skeptical about online teaching. She found teaching virtually much more frustrating than the many other  years she spent teaching in person. Now that she is experiencing teaching virtually in a more structured and planned format, Murray thinks the district is doing a better job of teaching students than what many faced in the spring closure.

“Virtual learning last quarter was crisis education. We were trying to come up with a solution during a pandemic. It was very frustrating,” Murray said. “I think in fourth quarter, we did the best we could, but now we are seeing the evolution of online learning.”

For her, another positive of online learning is the flexibility it allows students. Instead of being made to go to school for hours, students can work comfortably at home and are given more time to work on their assignments. Murray sees positives in both online and in-person learning.

“I think there is a lot of self discipline that has to go into it, but it is very flexible,” Murray said. “You can potentially make your own schedule and work comfortably from your home, but all of these things could be a downside.”

Junior Ethan Bailey agrees with this statement and likes being in Murray’s classes.

“She is very professional and nice,” Ethan Bailey, junior and English 3 student with Murray, said. “She is doing a good job teaching and is very interactive with students.”

Murray’s biggest obstacle is the communication aspect. Zoom calls and Canvas discussions are not the best outlets for students to open up to people with and Murray is working to solve this.

“For me, the hardest part has been building relationships with students,” Murray said. “The roster is very high and there is that natural barrier [from] not being in person. Behind a screen, we can hide a little bit and that makes the communication piece extra hard.”

With only a few months of  experience teaching virtually, Murray has seen firsthand what students are like at home and how virtual learning is helpful to them. Seeing students in their houses and not in the classroom has shown Murray how online learning should be seen as a necessity in some cases. 

“It has been humbling and frustrating; that has not changed,” Murray said. “It has opened my eyes to what is going on in student’s lives. I believe it should not go away. We have students that will need this opportunity regardless of what happens with Coronavirus, and I think it can serve students really well once we work out the kinks.”