What does remote learning look like? 'Comfortable, but not very glamorous,' says Manitoba student
'Heading into a new decade, it wasn't the year we envisioned,' says Steinbach sophomore Ayesha Badiola
Steinbach high school student Ayesha Badiola is journaling her school year in the southern Manitoba city during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here's her first entry for 2021.
Well, here we are again.
To help lower Steinbach's COVID-19 positivity rate, students find themselves rolling out of bed and heading straight to their Google Meet calls.
Some have discovered a routine, others have woken up five minutes before class, knowing that turning on cameras isn't a requirement. (I may be guilty of this.)
These weeks of remote learning are more structured than the initial lockdown in March.
Even the usual classroom competitions, such as Kahoot quizzes and games, have gone virtual — remote learning can't stop the rivalries!
Distanced seating and faces (while in-class during the start of this school year) have now transformed into icons and names in white font.
Surroundings have turned into kitchen appliances, closets and desks. New haircuts and pets bombarding calls are all a usual view.
Even learning your lessons while riding in the car: business communications class while driving to a dentist appointment? Been there, done that!
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The (new) new normal
Snacks on the side, scattered assignments, pyjamas on and hair sticking up in all directions — that's what remote learning looks like. Comfortable, but not very glamorous.
My first day left me drained. For seven hours I was stationary, my eyes focused on a screen with fingers operating to complete tasks. I'm still unsure of what made me exhausted. Was it the repetitiveness? The lack of movement?
The pandemic has taken a toll on mental health. To be transparent, "overwhelmed" is an understatement.
Despite the efforts, it's harder to be accountable and stay on top of tasks during remote learning. Sometimes weekends are required to turn into catch-up days.
But despite the struggles, Ava Kotyk, a Grade 10 student at Steinbach Regional Secondary School, sees a positive side of remote learning.
"I like being able to work from the comfort of my room, and being able to change the environment so it helps me focus better," Kotyk said.
The environment isn't always peaceful though, especially when you occasionally have hyper siblings running around the house. Oops, I just called them out!
The lockdown is a forced slowdown, a reminder to live in the moment and appreciate what we have.
When teachers end meetings early, many students play background music or a movie while working on assignments. Others (including me) call friends on FaceTime to combat the loneliness of remote learning.
Speaking of video calls and tunes, there are advantages to the era of the internet.
Imagine learning without online resources during a pandemic. That's a hefty amount of booklets, loose-leaf and textbooks.
To adults, it may not be, but to students, making eye contact with non-digital stacks of worksheets would cause us to faint. The old-school ways and Gen Z would not get along! (Maybe I'm being a bit dramatic.)
Oh 2021, here we come
As the world reflected on last year, I look back and see it was rather isolated. No gatherings. No parties. No social events.
The holidays and the countdown to the new year were spent at home, without family and friends from other households. (However, one wish was granted — Manitoba was gifted a white Christmas!)
2020 has tested our grittiness.
The sudden change caused teachers and students to frantically adjust to the new circumstances. Altering routines has become a familiar face. Eyes on Chromebook and laptop screens have increased.
Is this what I envisioned for the first half of my sophomore year? No.
Unfortunately, the pandemic didn't magically disappear when the clock hit midnight. Sorry, world, no Cinderella moment for us.
Heading into a new decade, it wasn't the year we envisioned. But lessons can always be taken away from hardships.
I've learned the importance of time management and rest. The absence of extracurriculars and in-person experiences meant free time. This allowed me to reflect on priorities and revisit goals. The lockdown is a forced slowdown, a reminder to live in the moment and appreciate what we have.
When do we go back? That's the question lingering in our minds. The province announced a two-week extension of remote learning after Christmas break. Only time will tell what happens after that.
However, the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines have been approved. It's another step closer toward the return of gatherings and social events.
Students at Steinbach Regional Secondary School wrap up the first semester in early February.
Is this what I envisioned for the first half of my sophomore year? No. And who knows what the second semester has for us.
Despite the challenges the school year has thrown at us, I want to thank all the students, teachers, staff and families for your co-operation.
Cheers to a new year — still physical distancing, of course. 2021, please be good to us!
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