As regular life is disrupted across the country, schools everywhere are scrambling to teach students at the middle and high school level who are quarantined at home. Here at Brentwood, the situation is no different. Everyone in the school community has had to adapt to a new style of both teaching and learning.
Many students are finding the sudden switch to online learning to be a challenge. Freshman Antoinette Willis said, “The shift to online school is kinda nerve-wracking. My daily schedule is not organized at all.” The current system at Brentwood has students checking into Google Classroom each day for attendance and new assignments, with some teachers utilizing Zoom or pre-recorded lectures to present in a more familiar way. Other students are finding it easier to adapt to the new style of learning. Junior Kate Fedotova stated, “Online learning is great in terms of flexibility, you can do assessments ahead of time if possible. But it is slightly hard for me to motivate myself, especially after the spring break.”
The lack of focus and motivation seems to be a common theme with remote learning. Homes are full of distractions and many students across the country are without proper supplies or reliable internet access. Senior Marco Mathon said about learning online: “I didn’t expect it to be difficult to focus, but it is.”
Brentwood teachers are following the majority of the country by utilizing both Google Classroom and Zoom video conferencing. The online platform evidently lends itself better to some classes more than others. Art teacher, Tim Rempel, has found doing projects without access to necessary art supplies to be his biggest challenge so far, saying, “I sent out an Art Supply Checklist to all students and we have a wide separation between some students who have many art supplies to some who have very little at home.”
Other teachers are finding the switch to better fit their teaching style. Biology teacher, Zeyad Hamdan, said, “The Zoom meetings seem like they’ll be surprisingly beneficial for me and, I hope, my students. We’re still working through some of the kinks but I like the way it’s working so far.”
Online schooling does, however, lend itself to a much more flexible and relaxed school day. Rempel said, “Even though working virtually does not come easily to me and can be mentally stressful for me, I can find the time to chill and recharge throughout the day.”
Many officials dealing directly with the pandemic within the U.S. have expressed feelings that the school year will likely be called off entirely, due to the current trajectory of the illness. Teachers at Brentwood are not too worried that this will set students back. Math teacher, Kaitlynn Jansen, said, “I have 100% confidence that our students will be prepared for next semester. This is one area I really don’t want students or parents worrying about. If something doesn’t get covered as well as it would in class, we’ll adjust and figure it out.” Other teachers think that missing out on the rest of the year in-person could have some negative effects. “Some classes may not notice much of a difference since they’re independent of previous classes. Other subjects may struggle a little,” said Hamdan.
A recurring theme of online campaigns concerning covid-19 is the idea of togetherness and support in a time of physical isolation. Everyone at Brentwood is looking to provide support and compassion in this difficult time. There are many ways that students can assist each other in the switch to online schooling. Hamdan suggests that students create study groups saying, “There are many programs (like Zoom) that students have access to now. Get together to support each other.” Jansen thinks that students should be connecting as much as possible saying, “I want you to be on your phones as much as possible. School is not just a place for learning, but it’s a place to hang out with your friends and socialize. I think as students, you can help each other by checking in and making sure that your peers are doing ok.”
While distance learning may pose a challenge to students and teachers, at Brentwood and across the US, it is undoubtedly the safest option at this time. The Brentwood community is strong and resilient. Teachers and staff members are available to provide support to students in this difficult time of transition.