Here’s my experience as a Year 11 learning from home.
When rumours regarding the introduction of online schooling/remote learning first circulated, I felt pessimistic and rather intrigued as to how easy the transition would really be. Would it function effectively? Would I be productive? Time would tell.
After being lectured in how to enrol ourselves into classes, which programs and software to use, the time had come to remain home and finally begin. Personally, this brought me a tiny sense of anxiety especially being in Year 11 doing a Year 12 subject, but understanding that there are thousands around Australia in a similar boat, I had faith and remained hopeful that the teachers and schools would provide a reasonable framework to allow myself, and others to still achieve highly in our respective subjects.
After one full week of online schooling, the effectiveness of teaching and learning blew me away. Whether it was the teacher’s technique in presenting a lesson, or rather my involvement and commitment to class, or a combination of both; online learning felt real, and a sense of normality came over me.
It was strange how much a day at home could feel like an ordinary day at school. Before each lesson, I felt the same pressure that I would usually feel to arrive on time. Each lesson was consistent, instructions were clearly given in the opening minutes of the lesson. If there were questions, teachers were quick to respond either through a video call or email. Teachers would sometime call us individually or collectively wanting to see our progress and knowledge of the current topic. I even found I was able to work more effectively and efficiently in the absence of my friends around me.
When word that we were to continue learning remotely into Term 2, I was optimistic. The software and programs we have used have allowed students and teachers to interact and discuss concepts in a way not to dissimilar to the classroom. During class we as students still felt very connected, a familiar togetherness that on the surface hadn’t been interrupted.
Making sure that I stay on track and do all the work that is being asked, is really up to me. But the understanding holistically of my situation and realising the importance of the years I am going through; I’m taking the responsibility of my learning and making sure that I’m aware of the current content in each subject. I’m not going to fall behind.
My greatest (and common) concern amongst both the Year 11 and 12 cohort is the format of assessment tasks. Teachers have made it aware that online testing will be necessary, which in my opinion, will not work. Unsupervised and uncontrolled, I can’t help but think students will be tempted to cheat and gain help from other students; or even parents. Although this may be music to the ears of many students, these senior years are so important, and teachers need to treat this situation appropriately, independent of student wishes. I will admit though, devising a better alternative is tricky.
Mentally, online schooling can be daunting; maintaining a persistent positive mindset can be tiring with so many distractions at home. A creature of routine, I’m still waking up at the same time, getting changed and brushing my teeth. I still use the ‘recess and lunch’ ordinary school breaks, where I simply go outside for a walk and eat. It’s been effective as I feel recharged and able to stay focused and committed for longer.
However, what makes recess and lunch breaks so fun at school, is the presence of friends. Not having the banter and the comradery amongst my friends has been hard. I’m happier with them.
Whilst I know it’s not going to happen for some time, I would honestly really love to go back to school as soon as possible. Whilst online student-teacher interactions have surprisingly worked well and are truly effective, a return to school sooner rather than later would be undoubtedly best for everyone.