Congratulations. You’ve made it more than three-quarters of the way through a year in pandemic education.
We’ve already used the blog to discuss the use (or non-use) of virtual teaching measures next year. Here’s a more fundamental question: what has this year taught you about the way you learn?
This year, I have realized that the way I learn has to be in a classroom with other students. I become more engaged and have more interactions that make my learning experience enjoyable. I have come to realize that I just cannot focus when I am in virtual classes. I tend to get lazy and the only way to fix that problem is by going to in-person classes. Another thing I have learned is that I like to take my time to actually understand certain concepts in class. For example in some homework questions in Trigonometry, my classmates would finish quickly but I would solve the problem and make another problem for myself to make sure I actually get it. This tends to double the amount of time that I actually need to spend. Lastly, I recently found out by simply not being shy and asking the questions to teachers and tutors that I need answered can improve my learning experience a lot.
I learned that, well specifically from your and Richardson’s class, that I learn better by listening. Reading the material is not enough. Listening somehow sparks something; it helps me realize the true meaning of the material. However, virtual classes are just not for me. The classroom atmosphere is where I can feel myself learning. Zoom is nothing like that. It’s hard to connect with the teacher and your peers like you would in a traditional classroom setting. To be honest I’m ready for in person classes again, and I thought I’d never say that, being an introvert.
This is year is a very special year, we are doing things that have never been done in our lifetime. Especially for teachers, they have never sat in front of a computer and teach to a screen. I made it more than three-quarters of the way through a year in pandemic education and this way of learning has taught me a lot about learning virtually. The hardest part about learning from Zoom is how to keep attention for more than 30 minutes. Without being in the classroom, there is a lot of things that are around us that can distract us from learning–friends, text messages are all source of distraction. It is really easy to get off track after getting distracted, once we get off track, it is very easy to get lost this year with the speed of our lesson. From this learning environment, I learn how to keep my attention for the duration of the lecture. As students, we also have more than just one class every day. It is more crucial to learn how to get rid of the fatigue after each class and get ready for the next. After being on Zoom for almost 8 months, I also learn how to adjust my screen fatigue. This way when I start the next class, I can pay the same amount of attention to the rest of the classes as the first class. This year provided us with a very special learning experience and might not happen again.
I realized that going to class in person is the best way to learn for me. At first, I liked being virtual because I can stay home, or I can stay in my room and be comfortable. However, after being on campus several times, I realized that I could learn material faster and understand more when I am on campus and going to in-person classes. When I do virtual classes, I can easily get distracted by my phone, another person talking to me, or even fall asleep. Then, when I have to do homework or study for a test or quiz, I have to spend a lot more time trying to reteach myself the material. It becomes frustrating and tiring. I also get tired of staring at a screen for a long time. In class, I usually do not have a choice but to pay attention which makes it easier to understand and learn the topics faster and easily. I do not have to stare at a screen for a long time. During the first nine weeks, it was also hard to connect to other people especially because it was a new school with new people, but after going to campus it has been easier to talk to other students and teachers and even get help with homework assignments. Overall, for me personally, in-person classes are more beneficial with less stress than virtual learning, and I am hoping for a normal year again next year.
Personally, I find it funny how much better I learn when I can relate something back to a show or an anime that I love. The way I memorized somethings for math and chemistry is by comparing the rules to characters and the way they interact. It’s best for me to handwrite and doodle in my notes. I do better in in-person classes rather than virtual. I struggle reading on the computer, and I have known that for awhile; however, that wasn’t really an issue until now. Reading a digital textbook for me is like pulling teeth. I know I’m old school, but I love pen and paper. I hate staring at the screen. A lot of people like to tease gamers because they stare at a screen all day, but then they can’t do it for school. When I play my video games online, I do so for about thirty minutes before needing to get up and walk around. It’s hard for me to sit still for a class, in-person or not, for long periods of time. I function best with hands-on activities and open discussion, even if I may get off-topic. Behind the screen, it just feels lonely and disconnected. School seems like it just academic on paper, but a lot of people forget the social aspect behind it. It’s enjoyable when you makes friends in your class, and you can talk and joke about the material after class. I just pray that people realize how much digital learning can suck after this whole experience.
This year I have learned that I have taken being in a physical classroom for granted for a very long time. I used to hate going to school; I would wish that I could sleep in a little longer and go to school in my pajamas. This year I was able to do that and I absolutely hated it! I can not imagine going through another year of that. Even though I have been in person for the past 3 quarters, the hybrid learning thing sucks too! I want to be able to see my peers’ expressions in the classroom and have lively debates with something other than a computer screen. Basically, covid sucks. However, the one thing that I did enjoy was the daily pet cameos that we enjoyed while students and teachers were virtual.
I have learned that I learn best through hands-on experience and through discussion. Sitting through a lecture on Zoom versus in-person makes little difference. What does make a difference is being isolated from other people for many months as I was and staring at a screen for 10 hours daily. We were taught in elementary school that we should avoid having more than 2 hours of daily screen-time, yet there we were, 10 hours minimum. I discovered that music is very harmful to my study time but helps me with other tasks, like writing this reply. Online school led to me moving out of the home I was staying in and gaining 5 years of life experience in 6 months. I have heard there was a Chinese curse which roughly translates to “May you live in interesting times.” I understand now.
This year taught me that I need to be in a classroom to learn more than anything. The normalcy of school is something I took for granted for so long, and this pandemic finally made me realize it. All the time, I would beg my mom to come to check me out of school. I even went as far as to asking to be homeschooled several times. However, this pandemic gave me a feel of what “homeschooling” truly feels like. It’s isolating and incredibly difficult. I miss the one-on-one time I got with my teachers. I miss seeing my friends. And most importantly, I miss being around people during the school day.
This year taught me that my apparent love for school is not invulnerable, that it can be quickly whisked away by tiny Zoom boxes. I hated this year. Online learning, for me at least, has been an absolutely irredeemable nightmare with as many plot twists as a M. Night Shyamalan movie. My computer has become both my best friend and sworn enemy.
I miss the beautiful days of sunlight streaming onto open classroom walls and I miss waving at friends and teachers in hallways and I miss library study groups and I miss office hours and I miss passing notes during class and late night hair dye sessions. I feel more nostalgic than bitter, but I just wish that we had all gotten the junior or senior year we dreamed of.
However, now that I am equipped with the vital knowledge that I completely despise online school, I will make sure to take as many interactive classes as possible in college. And, I’ve learned that I can drink more caffeine than I thought humanly possible to stay awake during long Zoom lectures (albeit I have fallen asleep many times nonetheless). Overall, I’m just glad the sunshine is starting to show at the end of the tunnel, and I look forward to normalcy.
Being a former home-schooled student from 4th to 8th grade, I haven’t always had in person schooling. My 7th through 8th grade was actually closer to the current virtual learning experience I’m having today. However, when I entered back into public school and adjusted to in person classes again, I relearned how to learn and enjoyed connecting with other students and my teachers especially. When I went to MSMS, I discovered a new love for learning….HOWEVER….Everything changed when virtual schooling attacked. I immediately realized that without in person classes, my mindset would begin to change towards learning. I think partly it is because, I miss learning with my friends (and laughing, and playing, and simply being) in person and I feel isolated when I am learning and have limited access to my teachers as compared to normal, on campus MSMS life. I found that I am extremely lazy and have shocked myself with how much I’ve let senioritis infect me. I miss learning in person but I will also miss playing music in the background while in class, checking on my chickens during breaks, wearing pajamas, not showering every now and then (XD), and being loud. This virtual learning experience has definitely taught me more about myself as a student and I hope to improve myself and avoid bringing harmful habits to college.
This year has mainly taught me that I need to set the tone for myself. I need to learn how to continuously motivate myself and find the determination to push through in my classes. In earlier years, I relied on the people and environment to push me forwards in my endeavors. However, when you are at home learning in your bedroom, alone, there is no one to rely on but yourself. There is no award show in the gym where you hear your name being constantly called and getting cheered on by your classmates. There is no teacher encouraging you because they can see the stress on your face. In virtual land, there is no one but you and your computer that can be turned on and off to hide from the reality of your failing grades.
I think this year has taught me that I am not an excellent virtual learner. I had to work significantly harder, making my life way more stressful than it needed to be. This year has taught me that I need to manage my time better; not did I procrastinate a lot more than usual, I also did not study as much as possible. Virtual learning has taught me that I am a classroom learner. When we started to have classroom learning, I was more vocal and a better learner. I also was a better test taker on paper than virtually, especially in math classes. I ask more questions, and I talk to more people in the classroom. It also better to connect with classmates and teachers in person other than zoom. Virtual learning has made me more stressed because I am working harder but also not working harder. There have been times that I have had no motivation once so ever to do any work. Also, my closest friends were at home, so I felt alone on campus, but then I made more friends, and it helped so much with my mental health. I am going to be honest, but this year has been the worst for my mental health. When I heard that Dr. McConnell would cancel the virtual option next year, I started crying because I was so happy that we would not be looking on a computer screen all day. I get to hang out with my friends on campus; I can have a better connection with my teachers, I can finally have the MSMS experience I have been yearning for.
When it comes to learning, I need structure. I’m used to having a daily routine. During this school year, whenever it would seem as if I’ve gotten a routine it is always disrupted with something unexpected. Alternating from campus to off-campus only made matters worse. While on campus my classes varied from in-person to virtual. I’ve lost my excitement for school. I used to love going to school and doing work but now it is just a chore. I dread waking up and getting ready for school. I’ve discovered that I learn best in person but this option is not always guaranteed. While on zoom, we have the tendency to get distracted and get on Pinterest or TikTok or something instead of listening. I’m also a visual and hands-on learner. I need to see words and or problems on paper. Looking at a computer screen does not help me learn. In a classroom, I can be fully engaged and do not have to unmute to say my answers which is also a chore. All in all, zoom learning has made me lazy and has got to go.