By: Emma Weinert
Going into freshman year last fall, I never would have thought that in the middle of March, I would start doing remote learning. I remember on the last two days before remote learning started, there was this weird vibe where we all knew we were probably not going to be coming back to school for a while. Little did we know remote learning would continue until September, and even though hybrid learning started in October, students were only going into school two times a month. I know that everyone’s experience with remote learning has been unique, because different things work better for different people. For some people, remote learning is easier than learning in person, while others thrive in a classroom setting. It is also important to remember that everyone has a different family and financial situation, and these two factors can play a huge role in someone’s remote learning experience.
At our high school, I think that remote learning is significantly different now than it was in the spring, because there is a lot more structure. Everyone has to do at least some of their classwork on Zoom with their cameras on; there is an hour lunch break and fifteen minute breaks in between each class; everyone has homework to do after school; and tests have to be taken on Zoom. Having this structure makes me feel a little less overwhelmed, because I do not have to plan what assignment from which class I want to work on first. I think the new remote learning schedule makes it easier to stay organized, because you are not just assigned a bunch of assignments on google classroom that you have to do on your own.
Nevertheless, it is definitely hard to sit down and stare at a screen for six hours a day. Zoom fatigue is actually a real thing, and I’ve noticed that I often feel drained after being on Zoom all day. My eyes feel tired by the end of the day, and I just want to do something that does not require looking at a screen. Looking at a screen all day can also lead to headaches and difficulty focusing. Although students do look at computer screens while in school, they also do activities that do not require using a computer, unlike remote learning. Another consequence of remote learning is losing the interaction you get in school. It is harder for people to make new friends, because you do not have as many opportunities to talk to new people. Remote learning can be especially hard for people who have no other siblings because they don’t get to interact with anyone during school hours. Furthermore, even when school is open, everyone is socially distanced while they are in the classroom, which still makes it kind of isolating.
On the other hand, some good things about remote learning is that it made me more independent. I learned how to prioritize what I needed to get done and put in more effort to learn the material. Remote learning reminded me that it is so important to stay organized, and that it really helps to write down all of the assignments I have to get done in my planner. I also got to practice making my own deadlines for myself when I had a long-term project to work on, and I learned to advocate for myself when I was confused with the material. Moreover, I learned to motivate myself by reminding myself that all of the work I put in now will pay off in the long run. Of course, there were days where I had little to no motivation, but practicing self-motivation takes time.
Moreover, I do not need to wake up as early in the morning. When I was doing in-person school last year, by Friday and sometimes even Thursday, I would feel like I was almost sleep walking to all of my classes. I went to bed pretty early compared to a lot of people, but I’m also someone who needs at least eight hours of sleep. I like that I do not need to rush as much when getting ready in the morning, and I’ve also noticed that since I can sleep in more on the weekdays due to remote learning, I do not need to sleep in as much on the weekends. As a result of getting more sleep on the weekdays, I feel more rested and more motivated to go out and do things on the weekends.
Another positive factor of remote learning is that we do not have labs anymore. The issue I had with lab is that it was an hour and a half long. Many students, including myself, cannot focus on one subject for an extended period of time. I tend to lose my focus on a subject after about 50 minutes, so having an extra half hour of lab felt detrimental to me, because I could’ve been using that half hour to do homework or study if I had a test coming up.
Although I think it is important to try to look at the positives of remote learning, I do not mean that you should try to be positive all the time and suppress all of your other emotions. I have found that I feel more motivated when I remind myself that remote learning will help me become a more independent student. We do not really have control over when remote learning is going to stop, but we do have control over how we act while learning remotely. Yes, we all have bad days where we feel overwhelmed or frustrated, but I think what we learn from the struggle will end up helping us out in the long run.