Online Learning Affects Middle School Student And Teachers

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Reeves Wood

 

 Zoom and Westminster have been close companions since the COVID pandemic began in March of 2020, and while few of us are on the platform today, our relationship with Zoom still stands. Despite the more noticeable changes at school due to Covid like the directional hallways and the wearing of masks, Westminster is also missing a few students. Those few students at home, commonly known as Housecats, are joining classes on Zoom. Not only can this virtual learning be difficult for those students, but teachers who have had to adapt to the dual role of teaching physically and virtually are also finding themselves struggling.

The separation between students on Zoom and students at school is not only physically challenging but also mentally difficult. While this obstacle is quite a big one, Westminster has managed to keep Housecats engaged and included in their classes. Eighth-grader and former Housecat Claire Diaz says, “Even though Zoom was quite challenging, I felt very included in activities and material.” 

While Diaz and many other Housecats are finding online learning to be unproblematic, teachers who are teaching both physically and virtually are working hard to keep the Housecats feeling included in their classes. “I’d say the most difficult part of teaching both physically and virtually,” says Anne Sophie Hankla, Middle School French teacher, “is making sure that the kid on Zoom feels like they’re a part of the class.” Having to make her Housecats feel included while having to teach her normal classes puts a lot of stress and responsibility on Hankla and other teachers.  

Lastly, most of us are probably wondering what we will do for snow days or sick days in the future now that we have Zoom. “If we have only two days in which we can’t be at school, Zoom would be unnecessary,” says Diaz on the subject, “but if we’re all out of school for more than four days, we should definitely use Zoom to our advantage.” 

All of the difficulties that COVID-19 is causing Westminster makes both teachers and students wonder when it will all end. While we can’t quite predict the future, the new COVID-19 regulations have certainly put us on the right path. Since the beginning of the year, more than half of the Housecats have safely returned to school according to the Office of Institutional Advancement. Hopefully, with a bit of hard work and patience, we can get all of the Housecats back safely to school.

 

Correction: 8th Grader Claire Diaz’s quote has been edited, with her permission and assistance, to better reflect her meaning within the context of the original interview. (11/30/2020)