As 2021 begins, students enrolled in online learning have completed nearly half a year of online school. Many of their teachers have also been fully online since the start of the school year. Now, students and teachers alike reflect upon their virtual experience.
“Honestly a big thing I’ve learned while doing online school is that I have to learn to adjust,” Callista Robertson ‘22 explained. “We don’t always get to do the things we want to do in the ideal ways we want to do them, and things are definitely subject to change all of the time, so it’s been an important step for me to learn to adapt to these changes and not let them hold me back.”
A big adjustment for students and teachers has been the schedule of online classes, where synchronous and asynchronous learning periods are divided into morning and afternoon class time. “I really enjoy the schedule of online school,” says Brittany Aude, a math teacher who has been entirely online from the start of the year. “I have liked the idea of really condensing down days of like, okay this stays at direct instruction, or we’re really focusing on new content on this day, and I have more availability to meet with kids one on one.”
However, many students have struggled with aspects of this new schedule. “At first, it was pretty rough getting used to time management and stuff. However, I feel that since I’ve gotten more used to it, it’s gotten better – not easier though. For me, it’s a lot easier to procrastinate, especially with the ‘easier assignments’ because they just seem less time consuming for the weekends (even though they’re not),” Jenny Huynh, ‘22 said.
Online school has also drastically changed the teacher to student connection. “It would definitely be helpful if I could get more guidance for classes and also more detail regarding assignments and such,” Huynh said. “Classes such as math and science have been harder too because I usually like asking a lot of questions and getting help – now with online school, that’s gotten harder and more awkward.”
Even though the virtual ways to connect are still possible, teachers are missing the face to face interaction that in person school gives. “Personal connections that you have, they take a lot longer to build online. I think that, in general, there’s just so many kids this year that I feel so disconnected with,” Mrs. Aude said “I think that when you build that really good relationship that makes it easier for kids to learn from you. And I feel like for a lot of kids this year I feel like that’s missing and that it breaks my heart.”
Despite the obstacles, students and teachers are finding ways to make online school as smooth as possible. “Most of my teachers have been pretty understanding of how stressful online school can be, which I really appreciated because it allowed me to feel more comfortable to ask for help when I needed it,” Bothina Abdelrahman ‘22 said.
Ryan Brentner, ‘23, is finding ways to stay on top of assignments. “Putting school first has helped me, that way if I want to go somewhere or hang out with someone I can use that as something to look forward to, and it motivates me to get my schoolwork done,” Brentner said.
Students are learning what works best for them. “Success in online school, and in regular school for that matter, is going to be so much harder if you don’t enjoy any part of it,” Robertson said. “So my advice would really be to find as many little things as you can that make you happy or excited, and focus on those whenever you’re having a hard time.”
With more months of online school to come, students and teachers have learned a lot. “I’ve seen a lot of kids have a ton of success online that struggled going to school in person,” Mrs. Aude said. “Even just for kids that are more successful in this setting, I think that it’s a really good option.”