Overall, the end of the 2019-2020 school year compared to the 2020-2021 school year is completely different. During the end of the 2019-2020 school year, students had school in which they could work at their own pace, complete their assignments when they were able to and didn’t have to be anxious, worrying about the way they look on camera or showing up “late” to class. Whereas the 2020-2021 school year consists of students being required to go on Zoom meetings, which many times could more easily be made into a video from the teacher or a Google Classroom post.
Over the last eight months, many students have been stressed to the max, with school, their jobs and their personal lives. Waking up at seven each morning to get on a Zoom meeting isn’t always pleasant or preferred for students or teachers. Ah yes, teachers. The people who do such amazing things for little pay and little credit. Teachers work hard, teaching kids and preparing them for the rest of their lives in the real world. They do so much and in no way so they receive the credit they deserve. They care for their students in almost every way possible and work hard to make sure their students are understanding the material at hand.
This being said, teachers feel a need and have a general want to see their students in some way shape or form, whether that be over Zoom or in person. Due to the pandemic, it’s been hard to create student-teacher relationships in which trust, understanding and honesty can be formed. This means it is harder not only for students to reach out for help, but it is also harder on teachers, as they cannot gauge whether a student truly understands the material. Students have to be in contact with their teacher in some way shape or form in order to form a bond or a good rapport with their teacher. Unfortunately, some students won’t reach out if they’re having trouble, which worries and upsets teachers as their job is to teach. Holding mandatory zoom calls makes it easier to be able to reach out to those kids and assist them in anyway. But on the flip side, even when students were in school full time, many students would struggle and not ask for help either.
Although it is a good thing for teachers and some students to hold mandatory meetings, it does not lift any anxiety or stress given to students and/or teachers. I am no expert, but I believe two virtual meetings a week per class should be mandatory and would be a much more productive schedule than what we have now. One full Zoom class (50 minutes) on the first class period of the week and a check-in on the last class period of the week, where students do not have to stay the duration of the meeting, but you have to pop on and check in with your teacher. All other meets should be optional but work on Classroom (or any other school site) is done by 3:00 p.m. (end of the school day).
For example, there are five days in a school week, on Monday, teachers hold their full mandatory Zoom meetings (Tuesday for teachers who do not meet certain classes Monday). If students do not show up, they are absent from that class. After one full Zoom meeting, all other meets for that class are optional except for the check in, which would be held on Thursdays/Fridays.
Full mandatory zooms would be much like the ones going on now, completing the day’s work. It would also consist of what the students are to do throughout the week. During the week, teachers would start Zooms and have them open, for any student that has a question about that day’s work. Check-ins would simply be students popping in to meet with the teacher at one point during the class period. Things that would be done consist of asking any possible questions, discussing material, or even just to say hello. Students do not need to stay for the entire period, just to see their teacher. The full Zoom and the check-in are mandatory; if students do not show up at one point, they skipped class/are absent (even if they completed the work for that day). This leaves much more wiggle room in order for the students and teachers to wake up and do their own thing, remaining comfortable throughout the day.
Optional zooms enable a “freedom esque” learning style. This allows students to work at their own pace AND be less stressed. This also compensates a teacher’s need to reach out and check in on their students. By having once a week full mandatory zoom meetings and a check in, we enable a healthy working environment while holding students to their responsibility regarding work and teaching them accountability. Mental health and school working together? Rarely happens yet is needed in today’s hectic society.