Teachers, students talk about leaving cameras off during class


This screenshot shows a class on Google Meet at MCHS on Jan. 28. All students chose to leave their cameras off.

“When they [students] do show up during this hybrid model, even though I’m only seeing half of their faces because of masks, I’d love to be able to recognize them right away. Whether that’s because of a hairstyle, eyes, or glasses but the sad thing is, I really don’t know what a lot of my students look like,” Mr. Matt Clark, math, said.

Remote and hybrid learning has taken a bit of getting used to for everyone, especially teachers that are used to seeing their students faces everyday. Interacting with students virtually isn’t ideal, but it’s the option we have all been left with since this global pandemic began.  

Teachers are struggling to connect with their students as they once did when we had in-person learning. Many students make the decision to keep their cameras off during their classes for various reasons that others can relate to. 

“I feel drained socially due to the restrictions that we need in order to stay safe,” Isabelle Figarelli, senior, said. “I also find myself focusing more on how I look than class at times.”

Being cooped up in the house for months due to quarantine can become difficult when it comes to socializing with others. For some students, it makes them feel awkward to turn on their cameras in front of  other students in their classes. 

“Honestly, I just don’t like having to worry about how I look, and I like to multitask [during class],” Isabella Carbajal, senior, said. 

Everyone had a unique response when remote learning first started and many teachers took that into consideration.

“Regardless of whether a student chooses to have their camera on or off, muted or unmuted, my goal for this year was to approach it from a place of understanding,” Mr. Andres Torres, English, said.

Torres is aware of various circumstances that students are experiencing this school year. He would love if he could see all of his students but would rather his students be comfortable during class with their cameras off than uncomfortable with their cameras on. 

There’s no question that remote learning affects the way teachers interact with their students during classtime. Classes become filled with awkward silence when it comes to answering questions and keeping up a conversation. 

“It weighs on me a lot,” Ms. Adrianna Walker, Spanish, said. “Teaching without any feedback is like talking to a wall.”

Walker tries to find a place of understanding when it comes to students having their cameras off because she is fully aware of how quarantine has affected everyone socially.

“It’s painfully obvious that they’re less social when we go hybrid,” Walker said. “They come in and they don’t know how to speak out loud and with each other.”

Some students prefer to keep their cameras off due to uncomfortability and the feeling of nervousness when they have it on.

“I’m at home in my own space, and it feels weird when my classmates and my teacher can see me when I’m in my private space,” Allieyah Samuel, senior, said. 

Samuel noticed that when she had her camera on, she found herself worrying more about her appearance than being engaged in the lessons during class. 

Other students feel like all the weight is lifted off their shoulders when they can be comfortable within their own space without their camera on. It allows them to focus more on what’s happening during class, opposed to continuously worrying about how their peers see them through the camera.

“When I turn my camera off, it’s kind of like we’re in class where everyone is facing the same way and just focused on the teacher and the lesson,” Veronica Loudermilk, senior, said.