Dual Reflections on Adjusting To Distance Learning


Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Precious Sesay

As a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School (ERHS), I have had the opportunity to experience 2 ½ years of going to school in person and experiencing a variety of what the school had to offer. On the other hand, there are new people to the school, specifically new teachers who may have had a more different experience with adjusting to distance learning at ERHS.

Distance learning has proven to be quite the experience from the technical issues, to sitting at a desk and looking at a screen for a long period of time and even the introduction of wellness breaks as well as asynchronous days.

From the teachers’ perspective, a new teacher to ERHS, Ms. Richman was interviewed on how she reflected back on the school year.

First, she was asked whether or not she preferred in-person teaching. In response to this, she said, “I definitely prefer in person! I like having students in the classroom so that I can see them and talk to them. You get a better sense for who they are as people, and I think it’s much more fun for them being able to see each other!”

As a student, I happened to prefer distance learning better. The time was more flexible in terms of having access to more materials since I was in my home, and an important factor is that I’ve already been able to have the Roosevelt experience for 2 ½ years, I didn’t mind being online. However, I do agree with the idea that it is better to be able to see people in person. Making connections with both teachers and my fellow classmates proved to be more difficult since we were all meeting through screens where the only way we could speak to each other was in breakout rooms and even then, some students were more reluctant to speak out loud.

Next, I asked whether or not she felt her students were learning as much as they would in person and her response was, “I think that teaching online you have different priorities teaching— you might not be covering as much material, but you’re still trying really hard to teach the same skills!”
In a lot of my classes, trying to find online ways to teach us material, the same skills through a different medium than we were used to at first, was a bit difficult since teachers oftentimes had to work with technology and experiment with various online platforms to see which would be most beneficial to both themselves and the students. As we moved forward throughout the year, I feel as though all my teachers gradually found ways to teach us efficiently which made it easier to learn the material. Since I am used to the Roosevelt way of teaching, such as the various platforms that we use, learning online was much easier to adapt to.

I continued on to ask her what the best parts of teaching online were and she responded by saying, “I really enjoyed seeing how some classes were still able to develop their own personalities and classroom rapport even with distance learning, and I really loved having the chat feature so that students who weren’t comfortable speaking out loud in front of the class could still participate.”

I think that classrooms developing their personality were also easier when the students knew each other or were upperclassmen. In classes where there were more underclassmen, I noticed that the class was often quiet and oftentimes people seemed unsure of what to do. I attribute this to them not being used to each other as well as the Roosevelt environment even though it was online. However, as a senior, seeing my fellow classmates who I got to be in classes with in-person, throughout freshman, sophomore, and half of junior year, we were all so used to each other so the platform switching didn’t change the previous bonds that were already formed.

Lastly, I asked her what the worst parts of distance learning were for her and she said, “Not getting to spend time with my students, never getting to see them in person, and missing out on developing more meaningful relationships with them was the worst part.”

I definitely agree on this being the worst part because as a senior, a huge part of the senior year experience is the various activities that are organized to send us off to college and we missed out on a lot of that. I think that because of this, it felt like our leaving high school was very abrupt and like the shift into college and/or just life after college is happening so soon.

Depending on who you are and how much of the Roosevelt experience you have had, distance learning may have been easier or harder for you. However, even with all the ups and downs, everyone did their best to get through the school year and make the most out of the experiences that we did get to have.