Webcam use replaces classroom management as teacher’s biggest headache

Claire Roach, Staff Writer

Since everyone has been stuck at home, school districts all over the U.S. have implemented online curriculum and are hosting live classroom calls over platforms like Google Meet and Zoom. In some Oregon schools, students are being penalized for not turning their web cameras on during live classroom sessions. Tigard-Tualatin School District (TTSD) follows the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) Comprehensive Distance Learning Requirement Overview, which lets teachers decide what is best for each individual class. 

A typical student perspective is the freedom to decide whether or not cameras are on is appreciated. Some students don’t want to share their home with people at school, or their reasoning may be as simple as stepping away from their workspace to use the restroom. When I spoke to sophomore Naasei Lynn said he appreciates his teachers’ attempts to keep a normal classroom environment, but liked the option to turn his camera off.

I also like how flexible most teachers are, and that turning cameras off isn’t seen as being distracted or not connected to some,” Lynn said.

Some students don’t want their surroundings to be distracting for the classesso they turn their camera off, but there is a higher chance of students not being as focused on the lesson when the teacher can’t engage with them face-to-face. 

As well as being penalized for web cameras, students in other Oregon schools have also been dress coded and have gotten in trouble for being distracting. It might be good to turn off your camera when you are enjoying a meal and when you step away from your area of work.  

I asked Sean Haley, a psychology teacher at TuHS, has specific class policies for live classroom calls. Haley had a discussion with each of his classes during the first week of school about what they thought were appropriate rules and norms for the year.

 “I was surprised how much overlap there was with regards to desired camera usage between myself and my students. They developed these norms and voted on them, and then I got to approve or veto them,” Haley said.

Haley’s classes came to the conclusion that having a camera on during a live class is optional, but should be used when possible. They made this decision under the premise that students are learning from their own private spaces and shouldn’t be obligated to share that.  

Web camera policies like Haley’s make Google Meet classes a little less stressful. Because online learning is uncharted territory for all of us, it is important for both students and staff to be flexible and forgiving.