1 December 2020
This school year will be completely different. You don’t have to pick a special outfit for the first day of school. You can wear pajamas to school every day. No more trying to struggle to open up your locker because your hands are sweaty. You won’t get lost in the hallways anymore trying to find that one class. All you have to do is join a Google Meet.
Howard County announced that they were going to do all online learning for the 2020-2021 school year until April 15, 2021, the day when students will come back into the school building for the first time since March 13, 2020.
“I had no doubt that we were going to be virtual but it was still a shock to hear it officially called,” said Ms. Haffey, the dance teacher at Atholton High School.
Dance, piano, and choir classes are struggling to do online classes. For the piano class, the piano teacher, Ms. Meloro, gave every family a survey to ask “if they had a piano at home or if they needed to borrow one.” If the family didn’t have a keyboard at home, they had to go to the high school and pick one up. Atholton didn’t have enough keyboards for each family that needed one, so they had to borrow from another school.
For all of the classes, there were fears to do online because obviously, things were going to be different from the regular school year. Google Meet is how teachers communicate with their students for school teaching and learning.
“I usually worked 60-80 hours a week and I knew that number may grow in the online format, which was scary,” said Ms. Haffey.
There are many potential fears for teachers and students going online, especially for students such as not being comfortable with the teacher or even students not turning on their cameras because they are uncomfortable.
“Everyone can see you. I mean it might be different in a dance studio because you’re all in the same environment, but in dance online I feel like people are watching me more than if I was in a studio,” said Daniela Cifuentes, a student at Oakland Mills High School.
The fears of somebody watching you can be normal, especially when you have to turn on your camera and you are at your house.
The fears of having online school can vary for anybody because everyone has different fears. A fear for teachers is not being able to “foster relationships with my students the way I normally do.” Also, the fear of not having the students “comfortable with me” and with the other students in Ms. Meloro’s class.
There is some positive news which is that more students have joined dance this year online.
Teachers and students are having struggles with their online classes. Teachers and students use Google Meet for all their classes. Since school is online, there can be delays and connection problems. For the piano and choir classes, the students “do a lot of ensemble work” which requires them playing and singing together. It is a struggle, according to Ms. Meloro. Google Meet can’t “handle simultaneous rehearsal” because of all the internet connection delays. So, if they try to play all together as a class, it would be very difficult due to the fact that Google Meet can’t keep up. Plus, everyone would be at different points in the singing or playing the piano. The dance class has been having the same issue.
“Tech issues sometimes come up-especially me not seeing them due to internet things. Sometimes I sound like a robot (as they tell me!),” said Ms. Haffey.
Going online was a safer decision due to COVID-19, but there can also be bad things about going online. The connection problems and the kids not being able to speak because they don’t have a microphone are just some of the issues that teachers are facing.
“I miss the connections-the stories shared, the ‘aha’ moments that happen as a class finally gets something, etc. You don’t get that in online class,” said Ms. Haffey.