A day in the life of a student, teacher during e-learning

Sydney Hletko and Saliha Ansari

This 2020 pandemic has changed daily routines in drastic ways; rather than walking the halls and crowding the cafeteria, students and teachers struggle to get out of pajamas to face the new, remote life. Remote schedules vary for students and teachers alike, and for some, the daily variations help pass the weeks while keeping track of the days. For the purposes of this story, The Evanstonian interviewed one teacher and two students to get a glimpse into what remote learning and teaching looks like. In no way is this a depiction of everyone’s realities, but rather a way to highlight potential similarities and differences among students and staff.  

Anastassia Williams

  “On Wednesdays and Fridays, I teach 3 classes all in a row. It’s kind of different on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I teach first and second period, [and] then I have a huge gap in the middle of the day,” English teacher Anastassia Williams says. 

This is only one example of what a teacher’s day of remote learning looks like during e-learning. An advantage of these varying schedules is the time and opportunity teachers have to offer support and attention to students. 

“I think students being able to get immediate help from a teacher has been a really awesome thing as well,” Williams explains.

 Having online learning has really made this something a lot of people can relate to.

“I think not having to commute to school everyday it’s really nice. That saves me an hour and a half of my day where I’m able to do other things which is really nice.” says Williams. 

Although Williams wants to communicate and get to know all her students, it is still a challenge to do that efficiently. However, despite its challenges, teachers find the positive of remote learning. Williams appreciates the breakout rooms which allows an opportunity for immediate, private conversations with students.  “Or at least not in a way where you’re worried about other people hearing or you’re concerned about a student not wanting to reveal too much about themselves. I really like that component of it [breakout rooms],” Williams explains. 

Williams elaborates on how this privacy is not always possible to have in a classroom. 

I think just like maintaining all the forms of communication that students use, like typing in the chat, they’re talking in video, they’re emailing me, like all these things are happening at once so maintaining those forms of communication can be tiring, obviously I want to talk to a lot of students and it makes it challenging in this format to be able to do that efficiently,”  Williams explains. 

Communication is a big part of learning, and it is a struggle for both student and teachers to do online, especially when there are so many different ways to communicate and all are being used. 

Trying to maintain a positive attitude is something so many people have been trying to do ever since COVID-19 started. Williams relates to how many teachers have been trying to motivate their students more by checking up on them, emailing them, and letting the students know that they care about their success.

  “Talking to a bunch of black screens a lot of the time [makes it] hard to feel connected to students and feel energized by their presence when I can’t physically see them,” Williams explains.

 This is something she wishes she could change about e-learning, many teachers find it extremely difficult to connect with their students when they are unmotivated to learn. Even with the struggles of e-learning many teachers are committed to helping their students succeed. I care about their success not only in my class but in all of their classes that they have,” Williams says.

Sophia Robles

“During my lunch, I usually use it as a time to catch up on work,” freshman Sophia Robles explains. 

During the school day, students only have 4 or 5 classes a day due to the newly adopted block schedule for enhanced e-learning. Because classes are 70 minutes long, focusing for the entire duration of the class can be difficult for some students. 

In some cases, students have multiple different obligations that may interfere with their learning.

“I have to make sure my younger sister is keeping up to date with her work and getting it done,” Robles explains. 

The pandemic has affected everyone’s home lives differently, and for some, the result has been increased difficulty as far as balancing schoolwork and other obligations. For students with these types of home obligations, it may be more difficult for students to get their own work done and focus on their learning. Oftentimes, these responsibilites can be met with struggling motivation, a result of limited social interactions. 

“I definitely think that they [teachers] give us a normal amount of work, I just sort of procrastinate a lot,” Robles explains.” 

While aspects of block scheduling are challenging for students, some feel that aspects of remote learning are advantageous. Because students only have core classes twice a week, this allows two days to complete assignments, which can reduce student stress. 

“They [teachers] do give us enough time to do it [schoolwork],” Robles says.

For some students, virtual learning has offered an opportunity to explore other learning methods and resources that best fit their needs. Other resources that some students have been utilizing are videos, worksheets, and AM support/office hours. 

 “Being at home while learning and having more resources we are comfortable using has been a huge advantage,” Robles says. “AM support has really helped me like if I need extra help on an assignment or a project.”

However, given the nature of remote learning, many social aspects of school are not available in the ways they were prior to the pandemic, which can cause stress and sadness. 

“I definitely miss getting to see all of my classmates and getting to meet my teachers since we didn’t get a chance to do that online,” Robles says. 

“Since it’s [my] freshman year, [I’m] not that familiar with the school, and we don’t get to meet our teachers personally,” Robles explains. “I think that makes school a bit harder.”

Communication between student and teacher is something that has been affected by distance learning, with many factors making it harder to communicate and understand expectations.

For many students, finding a balance between their schoolwork and home lives is a struggle, but can be helped with support from teachers.