By Merry Ma and Ari Yoo
Since the start of school in August, ASW has been offering a hybrid approach to learning for students given the current situation of COVID-19.
Hybrid learning is an option for students who are not able to attend school due to COVID-related circumstances such as being under quarantine. Students in hybrid learning attend school via zoom at home, which is different from when the school closed this spring, with all the students participating in virtual school. Only a minority of students have partaken in this option and these students can return to school at any time. ASW started with 7% of students in hybrid but entered a number as low as 2.4% this week.
As amazing as this option sounds, there are downsides observed by teachers. According to Ms, Luft, a French teacher at the school, “It is difficult because we are used to focusing on students in class, but now we need from time to time to focus on students at the screen”.
Hybrid learning invites students to go on zoom in order to have them “in class”. For many teachers, this may pose an additional challenge in managing the class as they need to use an extra computer in order to connect with their students. “You need to remind yourself to place your computer to face the student of the board”, said Ms. Luft. She also mentioned that “there is the inconsistency for we don’t know what to expect for student attendance: whether they are on hybrid or not” because from time to time What PowerSchool displays is different from what teachers know. Ms. Luft also suggested the technical problem that sometimes “loaner laptops are not working”, which may influence class efficiency.
However difficult it may sound, teachers also observed benefits. Ms. Luft said that “It is as effective as in-class learning because especially with high school students, students were focused and willing to learn with virtual learning,” although the program “needs serious cooperation from students”.
Only a small percent of students participate in hybrid learning; however, this new system may double the work for the teachers. Despite the inconvenience, teachers are trying their best to support students in virtual school.
Although the hybrid option provides students with the opportunity to continue school in a safer environment, or to participate in classes during quarantine, many hesitate to take this option. Maria Kuchejda-Wałęsa, a grade 11 student who was in hybrid learning for four weeks, said, “Virtual learning is definitely a great step up from simply missing school and having to catch up with all the work.” However, it “does not replace actual lessons in school, in the classroom environment, away from home distractions.” She also suggested that “The class times are simply too long for virtual learning. Personally, it has been very exhausting, spending class time online as well as completing homework also in front of the computer.”
Other students expressed their frustration with not being able to see and hear the class coherently through zoom and mentioned not seeing friends as the major downsides. Still, many truly appreciate the school’s efforts to involve students unable to come to school and acknowledge the benefits of hybrid learning.
While the majority of schools don’t provide such opportunities for students at home, ASW is adopting different ways to make the experience most pleasant for students.