Eighth Grader Adjusts to Home Education in Coronavirus Pandemic

Eighth Grader Adjusts to Home Education in Coronavirus Pandemic

(Isabelle Deng, 8th Grade, April 26, 2020)

Troy, MI – Imagine a desk with various cubbies and shelves. It’s laden with binders, notebooks, art supplies, and stationery … well, that’s my work area at home. It’s not what you would call minimalist, but it works for me.

It’s the place I use for remote learning while school is closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

My teachers assign schoolwork online, and my school district designs a guide to learning-at- home, as everyone settles into “the new normal.” Even before this situation, a plan for remote learning should have been in place in case of a crisis. When Governor Whitmer first announced a three-week school closure, half of my teachers seemed to be stumbling with how we would continue our studies remotely.

Conversely, the other half were prepared, and they informed us of the websites and resources we would be using during the weeks to come. Kudos to them!

In the first weeks of the school closure, I received a considerable amount of schoolwork, even though only half of my teachers assigned work at that time. It was even greater than our workload at school! Maybe they thought that since students were stuck at home, they had a lot of free time.

Since then, my teachers have eased our workload, so now it’s relatively manageable. Recently, my district said that 6-8th graders were expected to spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day on each class. My teachers have been very accommodating with their students’ schedules at home by taking into consideration home responsibilities and roadblocks that make it difficult to always have access to an electronic device, which has been nice since my brother and I share our laptop!

Now all my teachers are onboard with remote learning, and they assign us work through many websites, including Google Classroom, Schoology, Khan Academy, NoRedInk, CommonLit, Vocabulary, and Desmos.

Additionally, my teachers communicate regularly through email and an occasional Zoom meeting. I’ve found there are differences between “in person” classroom learning and remote learning on the computer. A major one is my concentration. At school, it’s simple to stay on task since the environment is tailored for learning and teaching. At home, it’s easy for me to get distracted.

Much of my learning is done on my laptop, but whenever I’m on the computer, I get sidetracked easily. Speaking of the computer, I now spend a lot of time on it. At my middle school, I worked on a computer frequently, but not for this long. And, there are downsides that come with starting at a screen all day, such as computer fatigue.

Additionally, sitting at a desk all day is unhealthy.

At school, I walk between my classes and locker, so I’m able to get physical activity breaks while I’m there. However, that’s difficult to do at home, so when I’ve been sitting at my desk for a while, I stretch, walk around my house, or head out to my porch to get some fresh air.

Despite remote learning’s downsides, I’ve surprised myself by adhering to a consistent sleep schedule. I’ve always been a night owl, but I’ve found myself going to bed by 10 p.m. and waking up by 7 a.m. It’s difficult for many students to go to bed and wake up early and follow a schedule when they are away from school, but what encourages me to follow through are the benefits of eating a wholesome breakfast while reading a book, seeing the sun cast its morning rays over the grass, and feeling accomplished at the end of the day. Plus, following a schedule makes me feel more like an adult!

Remote learning may have its drawbacks, but it’s given me an opportunity to learn independence and discipline. My remote learning experience has been positive so far, but I long for the day we will be able to return to school, because I miss it.

Online video sessions cannot accomplish the same unique social interactions that school presents.

For instance, school builds teamwork and friendship through communication and socializing. In our Zoom meetings, my classmates and I usually mute ourselves, so any background noise on our line doesn’t interrupt the teacher, so we miss out on substantial social interactions.

While remote learning may satisfy the learning component of school, it doesn’t provide the same social experience. Remote learning may not be able to replicate the school experience exactly, but it’s as good as we can get to the real thing for now. COVID-19 has taken away my ability to go to school, but I’m making the best of the learning resources I have, and I look forward to the day I can return to a classroom.

Isabelle Deng is an 8th grader at Grissom Middle School in Sterling Heights; she also studies with Private Literacy Tutoring of Troy.

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