School year begins via remote learning
October 28, 2020
Mountaineers began this school year, not in desks or in hallways, but in front of computers in the comfort of their homes.
“All of the teachers are doing their best right now. I know none of them were planning on this school year to go like this. A lot of them are prepared to take on for the next couple of months even if we have to,” said freshman Julia Kirton.
“Remote learning is going pretty well,” said senior Becky Lovejoy. “The only problem I have with it is some connection issues. The computer is slow and it’s difficult to open new tabs while in a Google Meet.”
Some students experienced issues with their Chromebooks when Google issued an update in the middle of September. Freshman Chromebooks, in particular, experienced connectivity issues.
“Obviously connection problems, lag, updates, and computer issues are the basis of all problems when it comes to remote learning,” said freshman Alex Bates. “And due to such a high dependency on this technology, it often slows down the classes.”
Technology Associate Paul Latino explained the situation.
“Just prior to the start of school there was an update to the Chromebook software sent out by Google. An unfortunate side-effect of this update was that about half of the Chromebooks in our school were unable to stay in a Google Meet or Zoom session reliably. Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long until Google put out another update which solved that problem, and things are running much more smoothly now,” said Latino.
Other students said that they struggled more with issues connected to their own learning style.
“I miss being in a classroom environment because I feel I learn the best through discussion and being able to have in-person conversation,” said sophomore Ahlanna Berryman. “It is very difficult to stay motivated and get a good grasp on the material without being in a classroom.”
Freshman Dylan Brenn said he, too, has struggled.
“I find that my learning style is one that includes a lot of hands on, whereas right now we’re remote and it’s difficult for me to learn at the pace that I may have last year,” said Brenn.
Even teachers said they have had to make adjustments to remote learning.
“It is hard to make connections with students, the pacing of my class is all kinds of wrong, and it’s hard to stay focused and on task with so many distractions,” said science teacher Daniel Paradise.
Some students said they have been able to see their classmates during athletic practices and games. But many students said they miss socializing with friends more than anything else.
“That in person social aspect a lot of people take for granted in school is really important for students,” said sophomore Willem Eisl. “Just having these moments to relax, even if it’s just walking to class is something a lot of students need.”
Sophomore Kaci Anderson agreed.
“I miss human contact and communication. I miss being able to make friends, who knows who I could have met this year. I also miss hands-on learning which is how I learn best.”
Several Mountaineers said they have tried to keep an open mind during Quarter 1.
“At times it is a little hard to learn over a screen, but it is teaching me to be more independent with my work,” said freshman Caitlin Dooley.
Bates said there have been positive outcomes to remote learning.
“The benefit of having more homework, worksheets, and documents/slides being online is that it’s rather helpful, since they are much easier to keep organized and in one place than the usual paper, folders, notebooks, and binders that we are usually accustomed to,” said Bates.
Other students said they have begun to adjust to learning from home – especially the later schedule and fewer hours in actual classes.
“It’s nice to be able to get more sleep and feel rested during the week,” said sophomore Troy Larson.
Junior Dan Weagle agreed.
“Some pros are that there is more time to figure things out because there is less time actually in school and the teachers will give you more time to do everything and you don’t just have to be sitting there waiting for the teachers,” Kirton.
Teachers, too, said they have seen some benefits.
“I think remote learning is working well for students because they can get up a little later, log into their classes for instruction but they have big chunks of time to do their “asynchronous” work too, “ said English teacher Sarfah Lefebvre. “I’ve been very impressed with my students and their dedication to getting that homework done. I think students are doing more of their homework in remote learning than I have students who do homework when we are in person.”
The Wachusett Regional School District has plans to move to a hybrid schedule on Thursday, November 19, 2020.
“I’m an optimist but I am looking forward to having face to face time with my students!” said Paradise.