Online and hybrid instruction weren’t what we expected (Commentary)

Both students and teachers had many expectations of how online and hybrid learning would go, but we all soon realized those expectations weren’t necessarily going to be followed for longer than two days


Brenna Gant

Many things changed between the start of online learning last school year and now, the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year.

Commentaries are a type of journalistic writing where the author gives their view on the news. In this particular article, a student journalist provides their commentary on an experience most students share: hybrid and remote learning. To learn more about the difference between news, opinion, and commentary, click here. Opinions expressed in the following are not necessarily shared by The Mav, Mead High School, or SVVSD.

We all know online learning is a struggle. And there are many realities that, hopefully, MHS students can relate to. If not, I’m about to sound crazy in this article.

While our cameras are off essentially all school day long, what exactly is happening on the other side? Well, most of the time — let’s face it — we’re in our beds looking like we woke up 30 seconds ago. That’s probably because we did wake up 30 seconds ago.

But that’s not always what online (and now hybrid) learning looked like.

We have been encouraged to keep our cameras on during WebEx classes, whether fully remote or on our at-home hybrid days. Teachers try and try to get students to turn on their cameras, coaxing them with casual threats like, “I’ll only call on people without their cameras on to answer the question.”

The ironic thing is that I truly believe students would turn on their cameras if it wasn’t so consistently enforced. Remember the start of online learning last school year? Everyone had their cameras on and looked ready to actually go to the physical school. And no one had asked them to.

When we started online learning, there was an unspoken expectation among the students that there would be significantly less homework. For a while, that was true. In a few select classes, that is still true. But in the majority of our courses, we have the same amount of — if not more — homework as before remote learning.

Students, including myself, were stoked that they could get easy As throughout the pandemic. That lasted about a week. Personally, I was one of the people who thought that online school was going to be easy As and texting friends, and when everyone found out that it was going to be double the workload (because for some reason online school is “easier”), there was a collective groan from MHS students.

Remember, back in the good ol’ days, when students did their asynchronous work during the time given at the end of each class? I don’t know if anyone else does this, but I pretty much do anything other than my asynchronous work when I’m at home. I usually just black out and scroll through my phone because — truly — what is the meaning of high school anymore?

It is a really bad habit and, yes, it’s gotten me behind in my schoolwork. But still. 

Kids, don’t be like me. I know that I’m cool and everything, which makes you want to be like me, but falling behind in your classes and not being able to catch up is a really deep hole to dig yourself out of.

Lastly, raise your hand if this scenario sounds familiar: Remote learning is announced. You set up your school desk, charge your iPad every day to full capacity, put your phone in the other room, and ask all of your family members to be quiet from 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. They comply because remote school is still school, and they want to make sure you have minimal distractions in the house. Four days later, your desk is a wreck, you’re on your phone, and your family has cranked up the volume of their distractions.

I thought that sounded familiar.

This is the reality now. Most of us have our phones tethered to our hands for the entire day. Most of us have our cameras off. Most of us are listening to our siblings flip through the TV channels out in the TV room if we’re not the one flipping through the channels ourselves.

Despite all of these bad habits we’ve all picked up — I’m looking at you — we, as students and as a school, can get through this difficult time. I truly believe we can do this.

While most of this article has poked fun at our bad habits, I encourage everyone to focus on their teachers: these are the folks who have put time and effort into their lessons. I encourage everyone to participate in class, even if they choose to keep their camera shut off. I encourage everyone to stay on top of their schoolwork. Completing assignments is important, even though students may feel overwhelmed and inclined to simply give up right now.

And of course, this is most important: if you are one of my teachers and you read this… no you didn’t.