What Teachers Are Saying About ChatGPT (With the help of ChatGPT!)



Cartoon artistic image of a teacher handing a student robot a graded paper

Since its initial release on November 30, 2022, it seems like everyone is trying out ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot developed by OpenAI. ChatGPT lets users type a question or a request and the chatbot will respond by spitting out an informative, articulate and detailed answer. For students, this gives them another handy resource to help with research or writing projects. Many people have referred to ChatGPT as “Google on steroids,” but I thought it would be interesting to ask some SRV English teachers a few questions to see what they think about this new AI technology to get an educator’s point of view.

I interviewed two SRV English teachers asking them the following questions about this new AI chatbot tool. I also included one question where I asked ChatGPT to generate the initial response for the teacher, allowing him to chime in and provide a supporting comment. Here’s what they had to say.

Q1: How do you see ChatGPT being used best to enhance education?
Mr. Lucien Martin, SRVHS AP Seminar teacher
A: “I can see this being used (in an ideal world situation) to help augment idea generation. Often students, and to some degree all of us, struggle with the idea of getting started. We fear the unknown, and the daunting task of trying to embark into it scares many people away from making an attempt to begin with. However, if such a program can be leveraged to help start an idea that we can then build upon, that would be something I can see myself getting excited about.”

Mr. Lee Witbeck, SRVHS English teacher
A: “When you look at the function of ChatGPT, it replicates the same ideas as Google as it pulls out prompts. Some teachers have used it to analyze text. It references human text. It can be very helpful for using it as a starting point of writing.”

Q2: How will ChatGPT change how teaching is done?
Mr. Lucien Martin, SRVHS AP Seminar teacher
A: “I think it’s too early to say how, if at all, this will change teaching as a profession. COVID and the move to online and hybrid school did a lot to propel education to adapt and change, but many of those adaptations that we all learned to make during lockdown have slowly started to give way to a “return to normal” now that we’ve returned to in person school full time. If ChatGPT were to become something that could alter that trajectory tangibly and permanently, then we’d need to see it in action.”

Mr. Lee Witbeck, SRVHS English teacher
A: “Another way is to force us to consider what we really want to emphasize (when teaching writing skills). If a robot can produce the writing, we may need to ask different things from students. We may need to ask students to think more about writing goals.”

Q3: What are some of the positive aspects of using ChatGPT for creative writing projects?
Mr. Lucien Martin, SRVHS AP Seminar teacher
A: “The ability to start is often the most daunting and critical part of a writing project. While the skillset required to do this is something that each of us should work on, being able to have a fallback plan is useful.”

Q4: What are your concerns about the use of ChatGPT in schools?
Mr. Lee Witbeck, SRVHS English teacher
A: “There are some concerns around cheating. More cheating is accessible since everyone can sign up for an AI account. Students will use it to avoid doing work. Most writing is for students to sharpen their skills and my concern is that using ChatGPT does not help improve students’ writing. We don’t want ChatGPT to get in the way of students learning but instead, go back to making students write on paper. Students need to be using their own writing to improve their thinking which ChatGPT gets in the way of.”


Question posed to and generated by ChatGPT


Q: What are your concerns about the use of ChatGPT in schools?

A(ChatGPT): As an AI language model, I do not have personal concerns. However, I can outline some potential considerations that educators might have regarding the use of ChatGPT in schools.

1. Lack of personal interaction: One concern is that the use of an AI language model may lead to a lack of personal interaction between teachers and students. This interaction is essential for developing strong teacher-student relationships, which can enhance learning outcomes.
2. Dependence on technology: Another concern is that students may become too dependent on technology and may not develop their language skills adequately. If students rely too heavily on ChatGPT, they may miss out on the opportunity to practice their speaking and writing skills with real people.
3. Ethical considerations: There are also ethical considerations when it comes to using an AI language model in schools. For instance, there may be concerns about data privacy, bias, and accuracy. Teachers and school administrators must ensure that the use of ChatGPT does not harm students or infringe on their rights.


Mr. Martin also adds that ChatGPT can be a fun tool, but allowing a software to ‘think’ for you is dangerous. Students, as anyone, should have the intellectual freedom to explore new ideas themselves, rather than allow a computer to do that exploration for them.”


Based on teachers’ views of ChatGPT, (and of ChatGPT itself), it appears that they all agree that it’s not designed for deep thinking but it can be a valuable resource for providing ideation, inspiration and enhancing the writing process. It’s also a fair conclusion that teachers fear that they will begin to see increased risk of plagiarism and that students will rely on technology over learning how to think and write on their own.  Despite the concerns and debates over ChatGPT, both teachers and students will soon be forced to find ways around how best to understand and use it in school because AI technology doesn’t seem to be going away.  It’s only getting started.