First impressions on the new normal

Celie Kreilkamp, Staff Writer

Thirty-minute classes, interrupting parents, and messy desks: the first week of school at BHSS has come to an end, and students and teachers are getting accustomed to this new reality.

A lot of changes had to be made to the daily schedule this year to make online classes work. There are two live classes along with two virtual panther plus periods a day, with recorded sessions and, for the most part, self-guided learning in between. With each class having different expectations, systems for assignments, and note-taking strategies, school feels quite disorganized, especially for students who rely on the structure of a normal classroom setting. 

“Overall, I’m starting to get used to online learning,” said freshman Elise Sensabaugh when asked how her first year of high school has been so far. “A negative, though, would be that I can’t get ahold of a teacher as easily as I can in person. I also can’t talk to my friends and classmates to get help unless I have their phone number.” 

Compared to last year’s online learning experience, however, Sensabaugh said live meetings with her teachers really helped her get to know her classes and classmates better, and she appreciates that she can access pre-recorded lessons any time she wants.  

World History and AP European History teacher Mr. Hoagland said that the start of school for teachers has “been a rollercoaster,” and that he’s glad the extra week to prepare was given to teachers.

“The whole school experience is really different because I’m not dealing with students,” he said. “I have most of the day to sit here and work on things, and I’m learning really fast. The learning curve on all this new technology has been straight up.” 

The definition of one big aspect of regular school, attendance, has been called into question this year. When your only face-to face time with a teacher consists of a thirty-minute live meeting on only two days of the week, how can you show that you’re putting in the effort for a class? The words MCCSC uses to describe what students should strive for are “academic engagement”: a mix of logging onto live meetings, staying up to date on assignments, and communicating with your teacher. Obviously there are a myriad of things that could prevent a student from logging on at the right time, but as long as you log on every day to the best of your ability, stay in contact with your teacher, and check Canvas every day for announcements, you should be fine. 

Hoagland said live classes are not a huge part of his class right now. “I haven’t been doing much of that because, you know, if kids are going through my agenda, that’s about an hour of work each day. To take another half hour of that doesn’t seem very fair.”

Students and teachers alike are adjusting to online learning for the foreseeable future, and with that comes a lot of ups and downs. Even so, kids are meeting new teachers in exciting new classes, classmates are getting to know each other, and life is going on. 

Welcome back to South, everyone!