My Quarantine Learning Journey
BY GRACE TIMAN
Quarantine, a time when worries fill our minds about the uncertain future, and my own mind hasn’t been focused on anything but school assignments. As a part of the generation raised with technology, it has always been a significant part of my life. I never thought, however, that I would have to rely on a laptop for my attendance. Within a week of school cancellation our entire school had swiftly adjusted to the online requirement. Although grateful for the timely changes, it came with some setbacks. I had never heard of Zoom before and only three of my teachers posted on Google Classroom, and of course there was the ever-present question:
Am I even going back?
The hardest parts about transitioning to online school were technology, and of course, motivation. Moving an entire Pre/K-12th grade school online was never going to be an easy task, and technology ended up being one of the biggest issues. Relying on Google Classroom and school emails to get announcements and assignments meant lots of miscommunications. For example, when it came to my classmates and I, if it didn’t show up on the “to do” section of Google Classroom, we didn’t know it existed! The workload that we were getting online didn’t get any easier than it was while we were still in our school classrooms.
So many assignments felt meandering. Everyone kept asking, “So, what are you doing with all this free time?” Well, we were trying to learn from home while doing assignments meant to fill our time. Everyone urged me to learn a new language, paint, draw, go outside! Yet, our workload had gone from hard, to impossible. Our teachers were all doing what they thought was best for us, but what they didn’t realize was that all of our “free time” was filled with extra assignments that were trying to compensate for the lack of in-person class time!
Unfortunately, homework cannot make up for human interaction. Staring at friends through a computer screen is lonely, and our sense of community is hard to maintain when you aren’t face to face.
Class from home means two challenges: Wi-Fi and family. I experienced sitting in Zoom class, for example, when a teacher’s Wi-Fi cut out, while at the same exact time her three children ran around the house playing together. Once, a child climbed back inside the house through a first-story window, waving at her mom’s class as she ran by! It’s not exactly the learning environment my class and I are used to.
Another big challenge is time management. A common phrase that I hear from my peers is “online school feels optional.” To put it simply, finding motivation is really hard. When I asked my friend how online school has changed her motivation, she told me, “For the worst. I have no motivation to sit down and open my laptop to Google Classroom and scroll through the endless sea of missing assignments, to see where I should prioritize my stress.”
In the beginning finding motivation was easier. I was able to get myself to open my computer and get straight to work. Unfortunately, things weren’t easy for me for long. About three weeks into quarantine, I suffered the loss of my father. While my school gave me some time off from classes, my motivation plunged from fantastic to nonexistent.
Soon, however, I became more focused on whether I had to turn in my geometry quiz than the new emotions that I was experiencing. I was floating through a sea of assignments instead of facing my surroundings. I know that I, and other students, have all these new thoughts and feelings, new struggles. We don’t have our friends close by due to the shut in. This causes such an overload of emotions and it gets really hard to process it all.
While not everyone is going through the same thing, I know every student is struggling with something right now. Mental health and stress are hard things to manage, so many of us don’t know what is to come in our near future. Maybe they’re a graduating senior, whose year was taken from them, or maybe they are just a kid who is sad to miss the eighth grade pizza party. Maybe it’s neither, but no matter what we are worried about, I can speak for all students right now when I say, we have a lot on our minds.
Adults have new struggles they haven’t adjusted to yet, too, and, as children and young adults, our struggles and problems are just as valid. All we want to know is that the adults in our lives understand that. Transitioning to online school is hard, but feeling heard by our faculty, teachers, and families, is one thing that makes life a little bit easier.
Grace Timan is a sophomore at Mount Madonna School.