Students and teachers reflect on in-person learning experience

Most+students+chose+to+remain+in+the+virtual+learning+model+instead+of+coming+back+in+person.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Kidd

Most students chose to remain in the virtual learning model instead of coming back in person.

Angelina Guhl, Features Writer

Once again, students must wake up earlier to get to school as opposed to waking up five minutes before class. Our RM family closes off the mostly virtual school year of 2020-2021 with hybrid learning as students and teachers slowly enter back into in-person learning and instruction. Juniors Amna Hasni and Alex Pease and history teacher Toni Kellinger shared their impressions after being online for a year and reflected on the ups and downs of in-person learning. 

“It’s definitely been an enjoyable experience,” Hasni said. “I definitely like having the structure of waking up and coming to school, and it’s definitely been fun connecting with my friends and seeing them.” Seeing both students and teachers has been a great bonus for those attending school in person, as it gives them a chance to socialize out of the breakout rooms of Zoom.

Teachers are also able to teach more comfortably to in-person students. “Most of the teachers that I have are a lot more expressive when you can see them in person compared to seeing them on Zoom, and I think it helps highlight the most important part of lessons,” Pease said. Most subjects at RM have suffered due to the decreased class time yet sustained difficulty, and without the time for chatting, it can be hard for teachers to engage students and get to know them better. 

“It’s easier to develop a rapport with students [in person] versus with them on a screen,” Mrs. Kellinger said. With more time to chat individually, students and teachers can become more familiar with each other.

Most of the teachers that I have are a lot more expressive when you can see them in person compared to seeing them on Zoom.”

— Alex Pease

Although many have returned to the building, the majority of students remain online, and class can be lonely at times, especially when there are very few students in person. “I don’t think there are a lot of changes because there aren’t that many people back in school, so it feels kind of the same to me,” Pease said. “It’s a lot easier to pay attention when there’s a teacher in the room, though,” he added. 

Teaching both in-person students and online students simultaneously also served as a hurdle for many teachers. “Trying to strike a good balance between meeting the needs of my students in the classroom and keeping the Zoom kids engaged and active can be challenging at times,” Mrs. Kellinger said. Since most of RM’s students are virtual, teachers do have to make sure that they do not become too focused on the in-person learners, resulting in the virtual students being neglected. 

Overall, however, there have been many positive outcomes to in-person learning. “For the kids that came back, it’s been really beneficial; for me, I definitely see an increased work output for the students that return. It’s also nice to see all my colleagues, but I do wish there were more students in the building and miss the normal day-to-day routine,” Mrs. Kellinger said. Both Pease and Hasni say that they have experienced increased productivity in themselves as well. “Honestly, coming back in person makes me feel alive again,” Hasni said. 

As more students get vaccinated, the option of full-time school in the fall is a large possibility for RM students. Many students have switched their learning model from virtual to in-person as well, and as the school year winds down, students and teachers have begun to get used to in-person learning again.

“I’ve loved my experience in person,” Hasni said. “Even though I have to wake up early, I’ve overall enjoyed these past two months.” Though summer is quickly approaching, students can look forward to a more traditional school year this fall, and both teachers and students look forward to engaging with one another in the classroom and building.