We’ve learned how teachers have grown even more flexible with virtual school and that parents have pulled out most of their hair trying to keep their kids on task in Zoom lessons. Our general appreciation for teachers has deepened significantly. But what have students been doing over the last year? Struggling. Making it. Missing teachers and friends. Growing.
To get an idea of how they are feeling, we interviewed a sampling of students ranging from 4th grade to college freshman, asking the same four questions we asked teachers and parents. Some of their answers certainly surprised us; others, not so much.
What has been your general experience with school during the pandemic?
Ansley (12th): Online school has been very hard for me, learning how to work the computer, submitting my assignments, and just learning in general has been very hard and stressful.
Cadence (7th): I don’t like it. It’s hard to focus and I much prefer to be in-person.
Makayla (college freshman): This year for school it’s been hard, especially with having to zoom and not seeing the whole class face to face ever and then constantly having to just readapt the whole year. It has been a challenge.
Francis (4th): Overall, this year has been good.
Chris (college freshman): My general experience with school this year has been very different. I’ve been at home and in PJs more than I’ve stepped on campus.
Cannon (12th): It has been rough and very hard.
Saylor (4th): Pretty good, just harder and I miss the teachers.
Maddy (12th): It’s okay but I wish we were learning in person.
Suttyn (4th): I hate this school year.
Did you catch that, teachers? Your students really miss you! They may not show it or say it out loud, but there’s something to be said for these kids to rather be in class than on technology.
What is the best part of virtual school this year?
Ansley: The time we have off the computer so we can do our own thing for a couple of minutes out of the day.
Patton (9th): Still being able to play lacrosse.
Cadence: Getting to know the teachers was easier online, and in the first couple of weeks, there wasn’t much to do.
Lili (8th): Not having to deal with all the kids I don’t like, and getting extra time to do assignments. Instead of an hour, I get all day.
Makayla: The best part for me is just being able to still have school and things did not have to be canceled!
Francis: The best part has been getting to stay home and have help from my mom.
Chris: The best part is probably being able to lay in bed while my professor is giving a lecture.
Saydee (5th): Being with family all the time.
Saylor: Being able to stay connected even though we are not at school.
Maddy: I get more freedom to do other tasks throughout the day.
Sawyer (5th): The only good part is that we can wear our pajamas every day.
Shyann (8th): Not having to get ready in the mornings.
What is your biggest challenge this year?
Patton: Turning in work.
Makayla: My biggest challenge for this school year was knowing that it would be different and not wanting to be. It just made things more difficult for me because I had that attitude.
Francis: The biggest challenge is not being able to do PE in the school gym.
Chris: The biggest challenge for me is actually keeping up with school work because there isn’t any teacher to remind me, “Hey, you got this to do.” It’s strictly just me.
Cannon: Actually learning the content.
Saydee: Staying focused.
Maddy: I have had a difficult time with time management and being able to retain the information that we are given.
Shyann: Getting school work done.
What do you hope to take away from 2020?
Ansley: I hope that I will be able to remember the good parts of my senior year. It might not be a normal senior year, but it’s better than not having one at all. It’s been very stressful but I’m excited to start the next chapter of my life.
Cadence: Quarantine is for our safety.
Lili: Good grades. I definitely appreciate being able to go to school now.
Chris: I hope to take away all the screen time with school. I personally really miss face-to-face.
Cannon: More self-worth and feeling of purpose, as well as better physical health.
Saydee: More focused on goals in class and at home.
Saylor: Hoping to learn more self-control and time management.
Maddy: To never take what we have for granted.
Sawyer: Being more attentive and responsible for myself.
Shyann: Getting more flexible and diverse.
In the not-so-distant past, there was concern about the physical weight of backpacks on our students. This year, that weight has shifted to their mental, social, and emotional wellbeing. Schools were shut down, moving to online instruction, which challenged technological limits. A nationwide quarantine was put into place, putting strains on social lives. Every day, there was something in the news, on the radio, and all over social media about growing numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, racial injustice, and the increasing political tensions in the country. Despite the challenges brought to the surface by 2020, we’ve continued to see resiliency in our students. We see the triumphs. We see the growth. We see the next generations realizing their voices and their strengths. We see the future.