A month in the life of a high school student in the age of the pandemic
Teachers have a somewhat different but parallel calculus defining our daily routines. At the beginning of the year, we wonder how we will learn all the names of the students if we can’t see their faces. Many of our students have fallen behind because of all the time they missed. Behavioral issues are an added distraction this year. Since we returned from vacation, student and staff absences have affected what and how we can teach as we try to make up for lost time.
Our day is full of questions: Which of my students is sick? This girl with the cough – does she have COVID? Why doesn’t this kid keep his mask on his nose? If I teach new material today, will I need to revisit it next week when the missing students return? What class will I have to cover today, since there are not enough substitutes? If I get sick, will there be a substitute available for me, and will my students fall even further behind? Will my students be ready for the MCAS and Advanced Placement exams?
Will we ever go back to normal, or has normal changed forever?
Remote learning ban does more harm than good
I sure hope Governor Baker has read Jenna Russell’s article on in-person teaching in the time of COVID-19. It would seem that, in the world of the governor, banning anything other than in-person classes creates the perfect atmosphere for students to learn, even during a raging pandemic. In the real world of Worcester Technical High School, young people stand outside in the freezing cold to avoid classmates crammed into a crowded cafeteria.
In the real world, as Russell reports, 100,000 out of 911,000 students have tested positive since December. Every day there is a 30% absence rate and students who have to quarantine return to an overwhelming workload that compromises their grades. The real world is filled with anxious college students struggling in the atmosphere created by the pandemic.
Perhaps Baker could have a more nuanced appreciation of what is really going on in schools and develop a more nuanced set of policies rather than the state’s one-size-fits-all approach. Students are currently facing significant challenges attending in-person classes and may be best served by a combination of in-person and distance learning.
East of Bridgewater
Let’s take a break before embracing e-learning at school
In an article published in the Ideas section on January 16, Thomas Arnett praised online learning at school (“A better way to do online learning”). A week later, the Globe published a news article following Worcester student Stacia Zoghbi as she navigates a school day in the COVID era. Zoghbi said her favorite class is AP statistics because it’s the rare class where the teacher directly instructs the students and they don’t focus on their laptops. Zoghbi said, “Nothing beats paper and a pen and listening to your teacher. He makes the problems on the board and everyone is engaged. . . . We shouldn’t have to stare at screens for eight hours a day. »
It is disappointing that Arnett did not consider the drawbacks of the model he was advocating. In my experience, in 15 years in the classroom, students want to learn from teachers. They want to talk to each other, hear ideas and questions from their peers, and feel engaged in a learning community. Many don’t want to stare at screens all day, and we should take that into account when discussing the future of online learning.