This school year, students and teachers faced a unique situation once the school announced it would be starting with synchronous remote learning given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have struggled as a school district and as a community during the past few months as we try to develop a plan for the coming school year that provides both a positive, rigorous education for our students and a safe environment at the same time. Given the current situation in the country with COVID-19 cases spiking in well over half the states in the country, we have made the decision to begin the 2020 – 2021 school year with Remote Learning for all our students,” stated a school press release issued on July 23. “While we will begin with Remote Learning, if the health and safety conditions allow us to gradually bring additional students, faculty and staff back to campus in a hybrid-learning model, we will be able to do that.”
With more than a month into the school year, students and teachers share what they have come to like and dislike about remote learning.
What do you like about remote learning?
“Something I pursued this year was going almost completely paperless by using an iPad to complete assignments. It has worked really well so far,” said Avery Refka, junior.
“I like the freedom that remote learning gives, such as being able to make my lunch in my own home or taking a bike ride during my lunch period,” said Lily Little, sophomore.
“What I like about eLearning is being able to wake up later, working a lot on my own time and not getting as much homework as I think I probably would in school because the class periods online are so long that it gives us time,” said Riley Stewart, freshman.
“I like being able to be a larger part of my students’ lives. It’s fun to see students’ dogs and family members,” said English and AVID Teacher Kristen Behrens.
“Not much really at all, except that as soon as I am done teaching for the day, I can go downstairs and immediately hang with my daughters. Subtracting a two-hour commute everyday makes a huge impact on my private life,” said Social Studies Teacher Neil McCarthy.
“I like the flexibility of being able to work from home or school. It was especially nice this week because I was able to teach while taking care of my granddaughter while her baby brother was being born,” said Science Teacher Jackie Hogan.
“I like the schedule for remote learning, and I also like the flexibility of being able to be home or at school,” said PE Teacher Bridget Erickson.
What don’t you like about remote learning?
“The one thing that has been very tough for me through this process is school and home life balance. Ever since becoming remote, those two aspects of my life have merged, and there is no longer any separation between them,” said Avery Refka, junior.
“I don’t like the new workload that remote learning offers. I feel that I am getting a lot more homework this year than last year,” said Lily Little, sophomore.
“What I don’t like about eLearning is the constant Wi-Fi issues that I have with just my school account, so [I’m] on my personal one. This has caused me to miss classes and rehearsals. I also don’t like the lack of human connection you receive because a lot of people don’t put their cameras or mics on when they are in breakout rooms, which can be kind of frustrating when you are trying to work on something all together,” said Riley Stewart, freshman.
“Zoom can be exhausting,” said English and AVID Teacher Kristen Behrens.
“Everything– but what is especially hard is getting to know my students. When they are allowed to turn off their cameras, it makes it near impossible to build a rapport, a community in my Zoom classroom. I miss my classroom,” said Social Studies Teacher Neil McCarthy.
“I don’t like when the internet or Google goes down. It’s also hard to pay attention to so many screens– the chat on Zoom and Remind messages all at the same time!” said Science Teacher Jackie Hogan.
“I don’t like not being able to see and connect as well with my students,” said PE Teacher Bridget Erickson.
What do you miss about in-person learning?
“I miss the connections that I was able to form with my teachers and peers. There’s something so different about collaborating in-person versus through a screen. The socialization that school brings allows me to connect with others and share common ideas that inspire creativity and school spirit. However, this experience hasn’t stopped me thinking outside the box. I am doing everything I can to make the most out of this year, not only for myself, but for the rest of the student body,” said Avery Refka, junior.
“I miss getting to see my friends everyday. I also miss being able to play my instrument in an ensemble with other people,” said Lily Little, sophomore.
“What I miss about in-person learning is having fun with my friends and seeing people in general everyday because working behind a computer doesn’t really give me that opportunity. I feel like, especially as a freshman, I’m missing out on all the fun things you get to do in high school like football games, dances, pep rallies/assemblies, etc,” said Riley Stewart, freshman.
“Laughing and smiling with colleagues and students in person,” said English and AVID Teacher Kristen Behrens.
“Being with my fellow teachers– many of them have become my good friends, and I really do miss them. Zoom calls help, but nothing compares to just hanging out,” said Social Studies Teacher Neil McCarthy.
“More than anything, I miss hearing the laughter of my students. I also miss watching everyone learning at the lab stations. I miss talking with all of [them] and hearing [their] interesting stories,” said Science Teacher Jackie Hogan.
“I miss seeing kids in the hallways, having conversations with students in health class and getting to know them,” said PE Teacher Bridget Erickson.
What don’t you miss about in-person learning?
“One thing I don’t miss about in-person learning is waking up early. I enjoy sleeping in and feeling refreshed before class starts,” said Avery Refka, junior.
“I don’t miss the stress of possibly getting picked on to answer a question when I don’t know the answer,” said Lily Little, sophomore.
“The only thing I don’t miss about in-person learning is having to wake up early, but I would much rather wake up early and actually get to go to school instead of having to sit at my desk the whole day,” said Riley Stewart, freshman.
“Packing my lunch every day,” said English and AVID Teacher Kristen Behrens.
“Just that lousy commute,” said Social Studies Teacher Neil McCarthy.
“This is a hard one to answer. I can’t wait until we are able to safely go back to in-person learning. The only thing I can think of that I might not miss is getting home late when it is already dark outside,” said Science Teacher Jackie Hogan.
“I don’t miss yelling over 45 kids five periods a day in P.E.,” said PE Teacher Bridget Erickson.