I always enjoyed school. There are probably a couple of professors at my alma mater at the Loveliest Village on the Plains who might take issue with that, but it’s only important for you to remember that I said school, not necessarily classes.

Over the last week and a half I have gained a profound new respect for the classroom and classroom teachers.

At this juncture I suspect that it is also important for me to say that sometimes you don’t have to provide all of the details in what you read in the paper. Suffice to say that this is one of those circumstances.

I have come to the conclusion that online learning from prerecorded lessons is lousy. I’m not talking about a class where there is actually a live teacher on one end of the computer and a student, even multiple students, on the other end.

I’m not talking about a Zoom meeting, which local governments are using to conduct business during the COVID-19 fiasco. I’ve sat in on four Zoom meetings in the last two weeks and rather enjoy them.

The stuff I don’t like are the pretaped videos about this or that, where someone is spouting off all sorts of details assuming that I already have a basic understanding of what they’re talking about.

To be very blunt about it, those stink.

You can’t raise your hand and ask a question, or ask the instructor to clarify a point. All you can do is press the pause button on the time stamp (aren’t you impressed that I know it’s called a time stamp) and drag the lecture back a couple of minutes and re-listen to the same thing I didn’t understand the first time.

It stinks.

Maybe it’s a function of my advanced years, but it seems to me that I’ve always been a hands-on learner. I wouldn’t say slow, but tell me what to do, show me how to do it and then let me give it a try a couple of times to make sure I’ve got the idea.

You can’t do that with some of these online classes.

Lets say, for the sake of argument, that I’m taking an online class in Excel, one of the Microsoft Office programs. Unless I’ve got two computers, I just have to watch what the dude is showing me on his taped presentation and can’t work alongside the teacher.

Guess I should have said digitized presentation. Not much tape is being used nowadays.

At any rate, the instructor continues to prattle away while I’m trying to figure out how what he just said is applicable to me and what I want to do. Most of the time it’s stuff I’ll never use anyway.

It’s just not like the real teacher being up in front of the classroom slowing down to answer the question I want to ask. Chances are it’s the same question a lot of other people in the class have as well.

I’ve come to realize that teachers are extra special. What I didn’t understand all those years ago when I was in school — again school, not always class — is the patience that a good teacher has.

I just don’t have it. Period.

Being a teacher has to be a calling from God!

I can remember the names of a lot of my teachers. The only two I recall from Pine Spring Elementary School are Mrs. Cagey, (with a hard G), my third grade teacher who had the brightest red hair I’ve ever seen, and Mr. Bright from the combo fifth/sixth grade class. He was a giant of a man with a flat top. Looking back, he must have been a former military guy because he was tough. I guess you had to be tough to try to teach a classroom split between fifth and sixth graders and try to keep everyone on task.

I remember several teachers from Falls Church High School. Mr. Yount was my history teacher. At the time, he would have been my definition of a hillbilly. He was from West Virginia and had a real country accent. Betsy Harris was my journalism teacher and faculty advisor to the student newspaper, Jaguar Journal. She was memorable for her amazing North Carolina accent. Francisca Love was my Spanish teacher. She was from Puerto Rico and taught me an awful lot of the language, much of which I’ve forgotten. However, I can still pick up a copy of El Mundo and understand most of what’s in a story.

Do not ask me to translate the Rome News-Tribune into Spanish.

In college at Auburn, my most memorable teacher was Mr. Overstreet who taught two sections of Oral Interpretation of Literature, basically reading out loud. I really believe that class served me better than anything I ever studied. Yes, I did study and did go to that class.

Jack Sims was a wonderful journalism professor and an expert at Associated Press style. That style has changed over the years and so have I. I didn’t use it at all in 31 years on the radio and relearning it the past decade has been frustrating. You can get verification on that from my editor!

All of this to simply say to the real, live teachers out there who miss their students that I can, with supreme confidence, say that your students miss you just as much.

Hopefully the patience you picked up somewhere on your journey to becoming a classroom teacher is serving you well during this COVID-19 situation.

Hopefully, your students will be able to learn one of life’s lessons about the importance of patience as well.

Unfortunately, that’s one class I missed all together.

Associate Editor and business columnist Doug Walker is always looking for news and tips about area businesses. To contact Doug, email him at DWalker@RN-T.com or call 706-290-5272.

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