Next week will mark two full months of remote learning for students in Mendocino County. Ever since on-site learning stopped, students and teachers have had to adapt to learning from home, all facing different circumstances. In addition to COVID-19 canceling on-site schooling, many students have had to cancel and reschedule trips and important events, including graduations, dances, and field trips. Though schools are closed, learning continues from home, and both students and teachers face the challenges of learning in this new way.
On the one hand, remote learning is easier for some students than learning in a classroom. Students don’t have to be on a strict schedule and can work through their assignments at their own pace, rather than having to keep up with the class. Since students have this flexibility when they do their assignments, they have more time to do other activities that could be just as beneficial for them as their schoolwork. Having to stay home can also help bring families together by spending time with one another more often than they would if they had to go to school or work.
Avary Banks, an eighth-grade student at Eagle Peak Middle School, says it is easier to work from home. “You can take small breaks whenever you want, and the work generates around your schedule.” For Avary and many other students around the country, at-home learning has brought a positive change in their education, even if they are missing out on social interactions.
On the other hand, online learning is harder for some students and teachers. Some students find it easier to learn in person, where their teacher can explain assignments to them if they have questions, and they can collaborate with the people around them. Working from home causes students and teachers to only communicate through email and their online classroom.
The eighth-grade Language Arts teacher at Eagle Peak, Shannon Nelson, says, “Online teaching, for me, is a whole new world. There are so many things that take place in the classroom that cannot be replicated online, even with video chats. I have greatly missed, and I have noticed my students greatly miss, all of the interactions we had every single day. There's so much power in being able to see a student’s face when you are teaching--a teacher can see if they are stressed, confused, depressed, and they can help a student even when they aren't comfortable expressing that they need help.” Many teachers feel the same power in presence.
Students also battle different things at home that factor into how they get their work done and how accurate or thorough their completed work is. For instance, some people may have a family member that they need to help take care of or may have other things going on at home that would cause them to become distracted when trying to complete assignments. Students are also facing many different emotions that come from missing their classmates and the cancelation of activities they were looking forward to.
For eighth-graders at Eagle Peak, our middle school graduation will have to be rescheduled, and we will miss out on many special activities planned for the end of their year that come with graduating. Many of the students have been looking forward to these activities for years and were terribly sad to see them canceled or moved to a later date. Missing out on these major milestones has had a negative effect on many students who are still trying to find ways to see the bright.
As a school and community, Eagle Peak has faced and struggled through many challenges. From fire to loss, to this pandemic, we have battled it all and came out stronger than before. Though these times are rough, teachers and staff members have been doing whatever they can to generate positivity and checking in on students, promising brighter days and spreading much-needed kindness to those who need it.
Though students and teachers have tons of new conditions to adapt to and are missing out on things they have been waiting for, we all stay united online, together. Learning has taken on a different aspect, but students are adapting with each tide of change COVID-19 has brought upon them. Even far apart, Eagle Peak Middle School is staying united in working toward our education, and students and staff members are ready to welcome the good and prepare for whatever comes next.