Getting past the obstacles
Many of us vividly remember March 13, 2020 as the day when everything fell apart. As people started stocking up on toilet paper and social distancing became the new norm, the difficulty of life was raised to “hard” without warning.
Of course, quarantine wasn’t all that bad. However, once August came around, students once again had to deal with online classes and virtual assignments. It seems like we have entered the “harder than hard” zone.
Students are finding it extremely difficult to sit through seven hours of school per day and deal with additional work while in the same place the whole time. Since we’re cooped up in our rooms all day long, there isn’t any variation in our environment. We were used to getting up early and seeing our friends five times a week, yet all we do now is open up our laptops and jump on a Zoom call.
Not only do we sit in the same place all day, but our work and relaxation areas tend to blend together, making it harder to focus and easier to lounge. Many students may have a desk or work space right next to their bed, but it becomes tempting to lounge in comfort instead of taking a posture of focus. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to separate those spaces, and it ultimately contributes to a student’s lack of productivity.
The quality of learning has also evidently decreased throughout the course of the past few months. Without easy access to COACH tutors, support centers, or the physical presence of teachers and classmates, a student’s ability to learn becomes riddled with obstacles. When students are in person, they are able to ask questions more easily. Not only this, but being in person almost forces them to pay attention or else get called out for not listening or participating. If everyone else is doing something and there are eyes to keep you accountable for your work, students find it easier to get work done and be productive. But without the motivation that comes from teachers and fellow classmates, it’s increasingly hard to finish work. Teachers shouldn’t feel obligated to lighten the workload, but should definitely take into account that a change in the learning environment impacts how students learn.
Though in-person school has started, even students who planned on going back have changed their minds. Of course, there are many factors to consider, especially the inherent risk of COVID-19. Even though a handful of students may be reaping the benefits of in-person learning, others will be put into a different situation as they decide to opt out. As a result, one individual’s access to resources will vary from another’s. Like virtual learning, a student’s ability to effectively learn and ultimately succeed is compromised.
Unfortunately, as much as we want everything to get back to normal, ending virtual learning is impractical right now. Yes, the process of learning was much better when we were physically able to attend our classes, and it was better for students to be surrounded by an environment where the main goal was to stay focused. However, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, so switching to in-person learning doesn’t seem plausible. Hopefully we can find a solution to refocus and get students back on track. Until then, all we can do is haul ourselves out of bed and commit to paying attention. If we give it our best shot, we have a better chance at learning successfully and gaining habits that are going to serve us well for the rest of our lives.