The hours leading up to your first day of high school can be scary but electrifying in any year. Now, imagine after years of anticipation being told that your first year of high school would be online for the first month of the school year.
This year’s freshman class experienced a high school introduction like no other as they signed into each of their classes from home on their first day due to COVID-19.
Social studies teacher Nancy Mallory, who teaches dozens of freshmen each year in her World History classes said that given the circumstances, the freshmen are pushing through the current difficulties with great fortitude.
“The freshmen have handled the stress beautifully and are doing better since the hybrid model was introduced because we can connect with them one on one,” she explained.
Productivity was much more difficult for students in the beginning of the year when students were in distance learning five days a week, Mallory said.
Freshman Tommy Morris shared similar thoughts, as he said that the adjustment was challenging because of the lack of communication.
“A big reason why students aren’t motivated is because they don’t have to talk to the teacher at all,” Morris said.
Online school made it much more difficult for freshmen to familiarize themselves with teachers and classmates, which has taken away from the level of comfort that students have with them, Morris explained.
Morris also stated that the expectations to receive an A on a test or assignment was a very challenging adjustment, as standards-based grading has been fully implemented in middle school in recent years.
Standards based grading works on a scale from one to four, and if a student earns a four on an assignment or test, it means that the student has “mastered” that learned objective. Morris claimed that an 80% was a 4 for most of his classes, and now that he’s in high school, teachers do not consider a B- a mastery of content.
“It was hard to adjust, but it’s also helped me a little bit because it made me realize that I need to work harder to get the grades I want,” he added.
Freshman Remy Schottenstein has had her share of adjustments so far in this awkward beginning to the school year. One of her biggest changes was that each of her teachers do things a little differently, she said.
“Some teachers want us to use Google drive, whereas others want us to use Canvas or just turn everything in in person,” she said. “It can be a lot to keep up with.”
Schottenstein said she works better independently and that online classes haven’t been the primary issue for her.
“I just like working better from home, and once hybrid started it messed up my daily rhythm,” she explained.
Study habits, time management and organization were all skills that freshmen had to improve in very quickly, Mallory explained. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more challenging for students to reach out to teachers for extra help and vice versa due to the pandemic.
“This class will likely be able to manage their time and be more organized than any class before them,” Mallory said.
Mallory also said that there is in fact a positive outlook to see out of all of this.
“This group of students will have the ability to persevere through anything after this,” she said. “It’s going to make everybody stronger.”