Our world has been turned upside down, and we now have a “new normal.” From how we greet each other to how we go out to dinner, life has drastically changed. We left for spring break excited about having a week off from school, only to find out that we would not return to school at all. The country was thrown for a loop, especially schools, who were forced into teaching all students online with little to no preparation.
As someone who has experienced virtual schooling last spring and this fall, I can easily say there is no comparison. Teachers and schools were put into an unforeseen situation last spring and they did the best they could. However, this fall virtual schooling has been much more beneficial. In the spring, the majority of my classes did not virtually meet or it was not required. Instead, most teachers assigned work with due dates on Google Classroom. In comparison, this fall feels just like I am at school (besides the fact that I am still in my pajamas while listening to class). Technology can throw a wrench in the virtual school experience at times; it is a little bit more difficult to communicate with teachers and to completely understand everything they are saying all the time, especially with masks on. It does seem that I have to be more of an independent learner, and be more diligent to seek assistance from teachers when needed. One might think that an online learner would have a significant amount of free time, when in fact, you have to be able to successfully manage your time and demonstrate good communication skills.
To begin the school year virtually was quite a different experience. Not being physically present in class with my peers and teachers made the first week of school more difficult and stressful. The opportunity to develop connections and relationships with my teachers definitely became a larger task, only having contact with them through a screen. For the past 12 years of school, I have begun school excited to meet my new teachers and new students. Not being able to do so this year was uncomfortable. If I am feeling this way, I would assume it must be just as difficult, if not more so, for the teachers as they attempt to handle in-person and virtual students. Video conferencing with others that I have already built a relationship with is totally different than with people that I have never personally met. I am having to communicate with many people I have never even met face to face before. However, not socializing throughout the day with my friends has also been an adjustment to make. Virtual schooling has impacted my relationships with my teachers and friends in a way I’m still adapting to.
At the early stages of online learning, I am enjoying participating in school while in my comfy clothes, working at my own pace. I am still working on getting out of my comfort zone to advocate for myself more than I would have to if I was an in-person learner. As in most circumstances, there are pros and cons to virtual learning and in-person learning. Each individual should make this decision based on what is best for their comfort level and learning style.