Published on: January 24, 2021
Schools and classrooms were once crowded with rowdy students, ready to start the day and learn. Now, schools are left empty with no one to roam the halls with the exception of a handful of staff. Teachers teach their students from home with the limited resources they have in order to help students to achieve academic success. Though it is a challenge, teachers and students work together through this difficult time. However, has distance learning become a more of a challenge for most students? And If so, will there be a possibility of schools opening back up?
“I think teachers are giving a lot more work than students are trying to keep up with and it’s more work than they were giving in person so I think it’s harder for a lot of students,” Michelle Adutwum said.
There is a fear that students are not doing so well academically under distance learning due to many unfortunate circumstances; for instance, poor internet connection, lack of motivation, the amount of work. Some students especially feel it’s the large amount of homework teachers give students. The district thinks that if students aren't performing well enough that they should force schools to reopen in order to help students achieve academic success.
Adutwum is currently in the BSU (Black Student Union), educating peers about various issues within black communities and is an academic scholar that plans on earning scholarships to attend college. Adutwum gave us some insight on her experience under distance learning, to better understand how students are being affected.
“I feel like one of the main issues is the environment. Sometimes I’m near my little sister, so sometimes when I’m talking, she might be talking at the same time, sometimes there may be issues with the Wi-Fi, not everyone has a strong Wi-Fi or data so it could lead to you being kicked out of zoom meetings. That’s something that teachers also struggle with. Sometimes we’ll be in a class and the teacher will get kicked out like four times,” said Adutwum.
While some do agree that the environment is an issue, others have another belief on the matter. But could it possibly be that the need for social interaction has students in a haze?
English teacher Mark Giller, believed that students crave social interaction and is a possible reason as to why they aren’t succeeding.
“Some kids are doing well, they are thriving, it’s easy for them, they don’t worry about their appearance, they just get up in 10 minutes, get something to drink, get something to eat they’re in their pajamas and their doing fine; and we’re not asking them to do as much but I think the kids who really thrive on the social aspect of school and really enjoy being in the company of others are the ones who are struggling,” Giller said.
Others also agree with Giller’s statement. Junior Nia Monique has similar regards to the idea. “I think they are struggling because a lot of people crave in person connections and not through a phone or computer. A lot of people use social connections to escape from their reality which is something they can’t do with distance learning,” said Monique.
It has been true that a majority of students have had a lack of social interaction and have barely had communication outside of social media, calling, and text-messaging but is that really why some students aren’t succeeding in distance learning? Math teacher Deidre Grevious believed so.
“I certainly think that there are some students that aren't doing well because they NEED a more social aspect. For students who are used to expressing their thoughts aloud as part of the thinking process, not having conversation makes them have to change HOW they process. When your brain operates in a particular fashion, it is extremely disruptive to have the routine changed,”said Grevious.
While she does think some students that aren't doing well because they need a more social aspect she also has some contrasting opinions about the idea.
“ I do not agree that students ‘use social connections to escape their reality which is something they can't do with distance learning’ especially since distance learning is allowing many students to not DO distance learning and escape into non-stop gaming, texting, posting, liking, etc. with their friends. However, if you count on your friends to help you laugh things off between classes, then obviously you would miss that. I know that I do,” Grevious said.
Grevious believes that students are handling distance learning well for the most part but still worries that this year will have long term negative impacts on students.
As for Monique, when asked about what they would do to do better if they had the chance to start the year over and do distance learning, Monique said that they would improve their time management.
“I would better organize my time. I feel like I didn’t understand how difficult it would be. So, I feel like I would better organize my time and just try to stay as organized as I can,” said Monique.