Learning to Move On From 2021

by Mia Shou ‘23

Source: Sophie Wang ’23

Published Mar. 10th, 2022

Students and teachers alike undoubtedly look back upon the year of 2021 with a strange mix of emotions. There is, after all, a sharp contrast between the cramped, incorporeal realm of the Zoom screen that they had spent the past year and a half in and the undeniably real grounds of Montgomery High School. 

For the student body, the transition also reminded them of the mountains of work that accompanies in-person schooling. “Although many teachers insisted that they had lightened up our course loads… there is still a drastic increase in assignments and difficulty in both the curriculum and homework compared to virtual school,” said Margaret Wang ‘25. 

The increase can be seen as a result of the absence of specific factors that had only existed during virtual school. For example, there was the “concern that putting objective assessments or small quizzes online would result in sharing assessments or just the temptation to look up answers,” said Mrs. Statz-Simon, who teaches English. Additionally, she points out that teachers wanted to reduce the digital workload to reduce the amount of “excessive screen time[,] added stress[,] and trauma” that comes with “living in a COVID world.”

Additionally, during virtual school, Mrs. Statz-Sion noticed a pronounced disconnect between students and teachers; after all, not only is it difficult to hold a legitimate classroom discussion virtually, but “it became difficult to gauge understanding.”

While virtual classes will hopefully remain a relic of the past, COVID-19 precautions in place this year not only continue to make it difficult to gauge understanding, but also fundamentally challenge many teachers’ methods of instruction. Take Mr. Spinelli, a biology teacher, as an example. “I can’t decide at a moment’s notice to put a random [group] together because I think they have an interesting idea and I want to create a little mock debate… I can’t do that… I have to stop and take names and record their contacts,” he said. “I can’t look over somebody’s shoulder and point to what they’re writing on their whiteboard and go, ‘How does this square with what we just said two minutes ago?’ because I’m right in their face.”

The transition from a year and a half of virtual schooling into a sense of normalcy has in no way been easy, nor will it ever be. The word “normal” has itself completely changed, for better or for worse. However, regardless of what happens, we must continue to remain optimistic so that we can remember the 2021-22 school year for what we overcame instead of what we did not. 

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