The first semester of remote learning has come to an end and I am left with a sour taste in my mouth. While I cannot place blame on any one group, first semester was ineffective in many ways. Second semester will be exponentially better if we take the time now to reflect on what went wrong and address said problems.
Communication is key. Many problems we faced last semester would have been solved with stronger administration-to-staff, staff-to-student and student-to-student communication.
As students, we understand that a lot is up in the air right now; everyone is taking it on a day-by-day basis, but the lack of information given to us did not help us through this incredibly hard process at all. For example, many students weren’t even told if they were going to have exams until finals weeks. This created stress that was easily avoidable and in the end hindered our ability to complete the finals to the best of our ability.
I felt terrible for my teachers, they knew just as little as we did most of the time. I would ask them questions relating to schooling and scheduling in class and more often than not, they wouldn’t have an answer. Again, I understand that it is hard to plan in a pandemic, but it is difficult to learn when we are always unaware of what comes next.
When it comes to the classroom, there are many things that should change. I like the 80 minute periods, but I cannot handle an 80 minute lecture. It’s hard to do group work or even individual work for that matter, but it is even harder to try and pay attention to a teacher speaking for the whole class time.
Additionally, we weren’t ever given review time. For example, the week of finals, I was still learning things on Tuesday that would be on my test on Thursday. I wasn’t able to digest any of the information that was being fed to me.
It often seemed like the workload never ended. I could work for hours upon hours and I would still have a million things I had to do the next day.
My problem though isn’t with the amount of work, it is the fact that the work isn’t rewarding. In a regular year, I would get to commiserate the mammoth amount of work I had at the lunch table, but more importantly I would get to be with people. Of course, the fact that I can’t do this isn’t anyone’s fault, but it’s important to point out why everyone feels more burnt out than usual.
On the other hand, there were some things I really enjoyed about the first semester. Ms. Martinez and the activities office worked astonishingly hard to bring the fun of a normal year into our homes. I also love the block scheduling and hope it continues when we go back to school full time.
This year has been hard on everyone, so we must understand that everyone around us has unique struggles, but we also have to advocate for ourselves and try to improve this broken system.