At the beginning of any other school year, students would be taking their first day of school photos, holding up chalkboard signs bearing their newest grade level, and waving to their parents from aboard the bus.
But as you know, this school year is very different. Instead of getting on the bus, kids are making the trek from their bed to the kitchen table. Instead of meeting their new teacher in a classroom, they’re doing introductions on a screen. Instead of being out of the house for eight hours a school day, they’re tethered to it.
Still, different as this year is for all the students in our nation and our community, they must go on and learn to adjust. After speaking with two families in the district about what the first week of school was like for them, a clearer image of what the school year will hold is coming into focus.
Amy Kosche, a recently unemployed single mother, has 4th and 9th-grade daughters in the district. Kosche says the difference in how her daughters have adjusted to online learning in this first week is evident. Her 4th grader has found it hard to stay motivated but has remained resilient with online learning. In contrast, the transition for her 9th grader has been more challenging as she is mourning the loss of a typical high school experience.
A Junior at MSHS and part-time running start student, Elizabeth Leitman, says adjusting during her first week of school hasn’t been too bad, it’s just been a little weird adjusting to using all the new technology. When going into more depth about her technology experiences over this last week, Leitman says, “There are a lot of problems that result from the new technology that just waste time during class.”
Kosche says the main benefit of online learning, as shown through this first week of school, is that they have learned to appreciate the small things. “We get more time together. We go on walks. We do things that we didn’t take the time to appreciate before. While this new ‘first day of school’ was different, we made the best of it and tried to find the positives.” For Leitman, one of the main benefits of online learning so far is the reduced classwork that results from online learning and staying safe from Covid-19.
They both say the main negatives so far have been missing the social aspects of school, friends and meeting teachers. Leitman muses, “I also miss the social interaction that I can get during in-person school.” Kosche says she worries for her high school freshman as she is wondering how she will be able to form new friendships with new classmates now that three schools have merged into one class.
When asked about her daughters’ teachers, Kosche says, “They are doing an amazing job with what they have… I’m grateful that we are in such a good school district.” Leitman agrees, affirming that all her teachers have had challenges, but they are trying their best and they are doing a good job.
Kosche says she’s used a variety of methods to make for an easier transition over the last week; designated workspaces… reminders to daughter’s echo dot and a schedule are what’s helped her family adjust during the first week of school.
Overall, it seems as though the local families have been making the adjustment, knowing that there will be bumps in the road, but that if they continue to do the best they can, the overall journey will smooth out over time.