A complicated semester in review
Photo Credit: @sanjoaquinmemorialhighschool on Instagram
This school year has been an incredibly unique one to say the least; one which we can better appreciate now that finals are over and we can enjoy a long, six week break to relax from what was definitely a stressful year.
To put a much more positive spin upon this school year, hybrid learning has proved to be an unrepeatable one. While those who were enrolled at San Joaquin Memorial at the end of the last school year only had the option of online learning, SJM attempted to fill in the education gaps by offering a half in-person, half online hybrid schedule. Some students were incredibly happy to be in-person again, while many others were incredibly apprehensive about the whole process. This school year proved to be an experience unlike any other, one which has drawn high praise at the same time as immense scorn as SJM attempted to make our year feel as normal as possible.
"Hybrid learning has been a weird experience to get used to, but I was happy to be able to see my teachers and friends in-person within a safe environment," said on SJM senior.
Besides supposed improvements in education, many SJM students jumped at any opportunity to go back in-person because they missed the personal interaction school provides. Many do not realize how much we interact with not just fellow students, but also teachers as we go about our school day, a fact which became blatantly obvious through the stay-at-home orders and the pandemic at large. In-person learning presented a more personal form of education along with supplementing the social aspects of schooling, keeping us informed and safe about Covid-19 whilst also making this school year feel like all the others in the best ways possible.
However not every person was as hopeful as this individual was, and it is true that many were not satisfied with either online learning or hybrid learning. Another senior who engaged with the hybrid system of learning believed that “...online learning was going pretty well, but once we switched to hybrid where some kids were in person and others were at home, neither group felt like they got the attention that they needed from their teachers, though it is no fault of the teachers. I think everyone wanted to be in person so badly, that they did not consider the repercussions. The longer Zoom meetings for classes became mentally draining and it proved difficult to facilitate classroom discussions with online kids because they could not hear what was being said in class. I know that during the days I was learning virtually, it felt more like eavesdropping on another class than being actively engaged in my own.”
As this senior stated the online learning process was definitely weaker than the fully in-person days, as the teachers struggle more with presenting the information to them in an equal fashion. Students also found it difficult to concentrate when having to face a screen for hours on end, and many felt as if their learning was stunted due to this difficulty concentrating and an easier environment to cheat in. Whilst hybrid learning was the best option the school could present during these difficult times, the many flaws of this system should not be swept under the rug.
“Online learning for the virtue of academics was perfectly fine, in fact it gave the ability for those who wished to stay home to do so and still receive quality education equal to the in-person students without running the risk of contracting Covid. The downfall to the hybrid and online schedules was the social aspect. Students lost out as a whole on the ‘high school experience’ which granted was inevitable but is still a treasured part of everybody’s lives.” These are the words of a sophomore who chose to full embrace online learning and had similar thoughts to the above senior.
Our administration and our teachers put together a curriculum this year to counteract the many difficulties brought about through our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, hoping to accent both a strong education and safety. They always did what they could, hoping to make this school year appear as normal as possible despite how abnormal it truly was. It had its obvious flaws, and many were often brought to the attention of teachers, but the fact we even had a hybrid schedule option at all shows how dedicated SJM has been to our education. Many schools around the country have stuck to online learning altogether. However SJM allowed students to choose between two different styles of teaching that fit both their educational preferences and their concerns about the Coronavirus.
There were many issues revolving around a synthesis of these two groups, a flaw which even those who supported the hybrid schedule called out. None of this however rests upon the teachers' shoulders or the administrations; it is a flaw that came through the school trying to get the most educationally out of this pandemic. This year has been incredibly chaotic for some and even life-changing for others, so examining the positive ramifications along with the flaws of the unique experience 2020 presented us may be a great way to approach the next few months, staying optimistic about the days ahead whilst also remaining as pragmatic as possible.