“Margie went into the schoolroom . . . and the mechanical teacher was on and waiting for her,” the passage reads. “The screen was lit up, and it said: ‘Today’s arithmetic lesson is on the addition of proper fractions. Please insert yesterday’s homework in the proper slot.’ Margie did so with a sigh.”
These days, Bradley — who teaches middle school in Fairfax County Public Schools — feels a lot like the “mechanical teacher.” He spends every morning huddled in a spare room in his Northern Virginia home staring at his computer screen. The monitor is filled with small rectangles: Each one depicts an anonymous, identical silhouette.
These, Bradley explained, are his students. Most keep their cameras off.
“Sometimes,” he said, “you feel as if you’re speaking to thin air. Or to no one at all.”
One week into remote schooling, students, parents and teachers throughout Northern Virginia — where