By Nasheetah Hossain
With sometimes stressful amounts of school work and no extracurricular activities to balance that stress, it is safe to say many of us are still working on finding the right balance between academic and personal lives. And that’s the baseline for all students. There are some who are facing much larger pressures of family difficulties, inconvenient work spaces, and even health issues. Keeping that in mind, teachers should work to create a smoother and more understanding learning environment for their students in our current distance learning model.
There are many steps we can take to enhance our distance learning experience and support the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of our students.
To begin with, students need our teachers to be flexible. While we understand that teachers set deadlines in order to organize curriculum, keep students on track, and manage their own workload, this is a time that needs deadlines that can be adjusted. Teachers need to truly understand that these are unusual times and that many of us aren’t able to put forward the same level of academic vigor we would in the classroom.
“I expect empathy and for teachers to understand that it’s harder for some to learn online than others,” junior Sadie Rose said.
Many students are currently struggling with difficult home environments, whether that is an unreliable internet connection or having to look after younger siblings and grandparents during the school day. These additional responsibilities may affect their ability to learn and perform in school as seamlessly as other students with no obstacles.
Online learning is different for everyone, and for some, like students with disabilities or special needs, it is especially difficult. Flexible due dates or at least the opportunity to ask for extensions can create the opportunity for students to really learn without needless stress.
Another option students would find helpful is for teachers to host “office hours” for students where we can join a Zoom or Google Meets call to ask questions or get extra help on our work. Although many teachers are offering this opportunity, it is not widely known to most students. Perhaps teachers can make this more official through an announcement.
Even within the actual class period, it is highly beneficial when teachers take the time to make sure everyone understands the purpose and instructions of assignments. Many students struggle with making sense of the actual material in itself, and because the teachers can’t see everyone’s face or directly make eye contact, it is difficult for them to tell whether the class is following along or not. This is understandable when in a Zoom meeting teachers can only see half the class, for instance. However, teachers could work to encourage these struggling students to join office hours to get more help in a smaller setting.
“It’s hard to learn and teach through distance, so I hope teachers will be patient and understanding with us,” senior Lauren Shane said.
Every student has his or her own problems and unique circumstances at home; however, today, that is where we all must learn from. Teachers and students alike must grow to work together on communication. While teachers become more flexible, students should not take advantage of that flexibility by procrastinating and not trying their best. We need to remember that this is difficult for teachers too. So, at this time, it is important for everyone to be as understanding and respectful as possible.