Trying to Learn and Attend School at Home

Trying+to+Learn+and+Attend+School+at+Home

Mary

Ricky F., Progress and Change

With this pandemic, schools all over have been closed and the kids have to stay at home. For some, staying at home doesn’t sound bad – sleeping in a bit longer and having time for hobbies is fun; this is an introvert’s dream life. However, on the flip side, this is an extrovert’s nightmare: not going outside and being with other people, not going to school and learning new knowledge with teachers and classmates. In order to continue education in quarantine, before the students left for distance learning, the teachers had a plan in place to continue to do school at home. The two main systems being used in the middle school are Hapara Workspace and Google Meet. With these features, school is back in action, just online.

With the announcement of schools closing, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee had to think fast of how to continue the education for the students. At St. Robert, kids were given two days off for the teachers to figure out exactly how they would keep school going. Right before the students came to clean out their supplies, Ms. DeLapp, one of the middle school English teachers, helped to explain the new system that the students would be using to get their work done. The main features she introduced were Hapara Workspace, Google Meet, and a digital assignment notebook which even included a schedule for the students. This system was not easy to set up though the teachers had everything ready to go by the time they spoke to the students. Ms. DeLapp explains, “Setting up virtual learning and continuing to update the virtual learning platforms daily is a lot of work for the teachers. For some, it meant learning many new computer skills overnight. For everyone, shifting to virtual learning forced us to rethink our curriculum, how it is delivered, and how to engage our students with authentic learning in a brand new way.” Teachers had to get used to all the new systems of using devices to talk and communicate with their students, and find ways for the kids to actually have fun learning at home for both young and old students. 

Hapara Workspace is the platform being used to access materials and complete work right now to replace physical school. Hapara Workspace allows teachers to create lesson plans for the students, which allows them to click on various resources like videos, worksheets, and links to websites. They can also post and submit assignments on the workspaces, which is connected to their existing Google Drive accounts. This is a common source to find work for the day from the teachers. The other main tool being used in the middle school is Google Meet, which is like Zoom. People can virtually chat with each other. The platform also lets them present projects or a slideshow which the other students can see. These two alternatives for teachers are really useful. Google Meet allows teachers to present work as they did in the classroom while also  seeing their favorite students.

Even with these amazing features the students got, online school still is not the same as regular school and it’s harder for the teachers to keep up. Teachers are racing to keep up with the extra workload that comes with virtual school and still get their students what they need on time. They have to create videos, worksheets, projects, and provide feedback for their students about questions they have in only a day or less. People should be grateful for their teachers as they are working so hard to complete this school year, and they don’t even get a break from any of it until the end of the year. While they are working hard, the sense of school is still not the same. Sure, there is still homework and students are seeing teachers, but the feeling is not the same since everything is done behind a computer screen. The teachers absolutely miss their students and teaching them in person. The natural social interactions that happen in school even during a lesson are lost. Another fact is that students get bored sometimes and can get distracted while they work without a teacher being present to keep them focused. Learning together is much more engaging than learning alone at home. 

Everyone wants to be done with this pandemic and is anxiously waiting at home for school to go back to normal. It’s nice that the students have these online replacements for school, but it’s not the same. That being said, everyone should be grateful for the teachers and the principal for making all of this possible. School is not ideal right now, but it is far better than having no support, and the teachers at St. Robert are doing everything they can to encourage learning and provide a normal daily routine. Everyone be safe, and be strong.

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