Learning in pajamas – The distance learning experience

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Photo courtesy of Sierra Emery

Sierra Emery '21 completes math homework with the help from her pet cat.

During this unprecedented time, BHS’s quick shift to distance learning was a necessary action in an effort to protect the school community. This experiment in remote, online-based education was surely met with challenges, as the practice is novel and far from the typical routines of students and teachers alike. But distance learning, considering the extraordinary circumstances, has been successful in engaging and stimulating students while furthering their education from their homes.

Student workspace
After the initial three weeks of distance learning, many students have found the optimal space for completing their schoolwork. Whether that space is a desk in a bedroom or a couch in a basement, it’s certainly not a desk in a classroom. This shift can be difficult to become accustomed to, but after the first phase of distance learning, it seems that many students have found systems and spaces that work for them.

Callie Hunnewell ‘20 said, “When I’m on Zoom calls or doing homework, I’m usually working at the desk in my bedroom. It’s quiet, which helps me focus, but it’s not always as easy to pay attention because I’m surrounded by more distractions than I would be if I was in a classroom.”

Students are doing all that they can to stay on track and keep up with their work from their new learning environments.

Adjusting to changes in lessons
The most apparent issue for students and teachers alike is tackling how to handle classwork and homework during this time. The lesson plans and goals that teachers had prior to distance learning had to be quickly modified to this new style of learning. Various sites and resources that digitally connect students and teachers are being used. The most popular of those sites is Zoom, a video and audio communication system. Events like class discussions, debates, and even extracurricular meetings are taking place via Zoom. Quizlet, Kahoot, Google hangouts, and pre-recorded video instructions are also typical methods of instruction.

Marcelo Benalcazar-Robles ‘21 said, “My day-to-day schedule has changed significantly. Before distance learning, I was usually spending a lot of time on homework, but now I have substantially less homework. I have seen, however, a significant jump in class work, so I end up completing a lot of work outside of the allotted class time, which is essentially homework.”

The block schedule that is being used for the distance learning period, in which only half of a student’s classes take place on a single day, is also providing more flexibility for students.

Mariel Pallante ‘22 said, “I have benefitted from being able to work at my own pace – whether that is faster or slower. Distance learning has also prompted me to take greater responsibility to find various outside resources instead of relying on my teachers. Additionally, the block schedule has allowed me to focus on certain subjects and has reduced the amount of assignments and homework for me.”

Staying connected
One of the primary challenges that distance learning poses is maintaining connections and relationships to friends and loved ones. Fortunately, students have discovered many tech-savvy ways to stay connected and maintain normalcy during such an abnormal time. Social Zoom calls, group FaceTime sessions, and even virtual Netflix viewing parties are all common practices.

Jack Hicks ‘21 said, “This time has really brought to my attention how valuable mobile connection and internet access are. Being able to do Zoom calls for group projects or just FaceTime my friends has made this experience less horrible than it could be.”

The BHS community is striving to maintain normalcy despite the unprecedented disruption to our education. The guidance department, teachers, and administration are available and eager to assist students in any way that they can.