Students and Staff Adjust to Virtual Learning

After the first week of school on the computer, students and teachers have started to settle into a virtual learning schedule. The challenges of new platforms, online lessons, and constant glitches have changed school as we know it, but there have been positives throughout the week as well.

Several students have adjusted to the new system by creating a pleasant learning environment for themselves at home. Many have also been enjoying the long asynchronous periods to finish homework and class assignments.

“The best part is that we have some asynchronous time before 1st block and between all of our classes so we can take some breaks from our computers and learning,” Nikita Khatri ‘23 said. “I have made myself more comfortable learning online by wearing comfy clothes and always having snacks near me.”

Teachers have also adapted to the new style of learning, inventing creative ways to keep their students engaged, while still teaching them the necessary content. Although multiple staff members have been worried about the use of new technology, several have organized their work in ways that allow them to focus on their teaching instead of minor technological obstacles.

“The technology part makes me nervous, so I do everything I possibly can up front so that when I’m with [my students], I’m not having to worry about the technology part, ” English teacher Ms. Hilary Carter said. “I thought I was going to absolutely hate this. And then the first day of school happened, and the students came and all of a sudden it was like, ‘okay, I know how to do this part of it,’ so even though the technology has been so hard, the interactions with students are still good, just like they were in person.”

Even so, several students are finding it more difficult to work alongside and build relationships with their fellow classmates due to the nature of the Schoology platform. They feel that communication is too uncomfortable and disjointed to be both effective and natural.

“The most challenging part of virtual learning for me has been not being able to connect with my teachers [and] friends in the same way.” Helen Le ‘23 said. “While we’ve always used technology in our classrooms, learning through a screen [and] videos has been much more difficult.”

In addition to specific problems with the Schoology platform, teachers have faced other challenges generated from a completely virtual classroom, including inboxes flooded with emails from students and complete shifts in grading policies. However, in spite of those problems, some teachers think that all of the changes required may be beneficial in the long run.

“I think that when all of this is said and done with, there might be some things that are actually better,” Ms. Carter said. “I feel like we’re all doing the best that we can. We teachers have rallied together and have certainly helped teach each other things and so forth. For example, like [for] testing, we’re really going to limit how many tests we give [the students], because we just can’t guarantee that the results are valid. So we’re having to look at other ways to assess, and ultimately what we find might be better than what we were doing originally.”

Some students have also started to look at the brighter side of virtual learning. They understand the necessity of it, and that even though communication is difficult, there are advantages to online school as well.

I think overall, virtual school isn’t that bad,” Justine Knopf ‘24 said. “We have lessons and homework [and] we are actually learning new stuff. I’m more motivated than ever to do my work thoughtfully and efficiently. I want to study more, to go above and beyond since I’m so energetic about my school work.”

The first week has been filled with ups and downs, crashes and successes, glitches and smooth sailings. Students and teachers are still attempting to wrap their heads around the idea of interacting entirely through a screen, but many have finally started to figure the system out. Although school may not be the “normal” we would like to see, the hope is that some level of normalcy can be achieved as the rest of the year sails ahead.