A month into blended learning, the iSchool serves as a success story

A month into blended learning, the iSchool serves as a success story

Zach Kaplan, Editor-in-chief

After a three-month span in the spring where you had to learn from behind your computer, chained to Google Classroom for any new material, you can finally go into school again. Mask on, you enter your classroom for the day, with desks spaced out and only a couple people sharing a room with you. It’s bittersweet, because you miss the old times where you could socialize freely in the classroom, but coming after months of remote learning without socialization, it’s a great feeling.

A month into the experiment that is NYC’s school systems opening for blended learning, students and teachers have found blended learning and the change of scene it provides makes them more productive and happier. 

Starting October 1st, after much delay, high schools were allowed to open around NYC. With anxieties high about whether the structures in place would allow for a safe learning environment, one month into blended learning, students and teachers at the iSchool believe it to be a success thus far.

One of those students is Sydney Johnson, a junior. “Socializing with other people for me goes hand and hand with my performance and schoolwork. On certain days, I’m with other people with IEPs, and we talk a lot at lunch and the morning which has been really good for my motivation and self esteem. The added socialization of being in the building has been really helpful,” Johnson said. 

Students aren’t the only ones who have been happy with the way things have gone so far. Some teachers have found that going back to school is refreshing and makes them more productive. 

One of those teachers is Mr. Jones, who teaches English. “I feel that I’m much more productive in school, and I like clearly defined boundaries between my work day and my time off,” he said.

Many teachers find this to be a nice change of scene that makes it feel somewhat normal.

Ms. Turso, who teaches history and economics, says it’s a nice change, but it feels nothing like before. “I like being in the building for a couple of days a week.  It’s good to have a change of environment and see some students and teachers, but I miss seeing all my students face to face and having students interact in the classroom,” she said.

One major question mark was how the school would handle the situation of taking precautions such as sanitizing desks, enforcing students wearing masks, and ensuring that they socially distance from one another. 

Ms. Klimowicz, who teaches science, says the steps the school has taken to creating a safe learning environment are working. 

I think Ms. Bailey and Ms. Leimsider have done a good job of trying to make everything as smooth as possible. We have lots of cleaning supplies, and there is enough space for everyone to social distance.  Every classroom is organized and desks are spaced out so that when students are in the room it feels like everyone is generally pretty safe,” she said.

But still, many have reservations, less about being in the building, but about taking the subway each day to school.

“At first I wasn’t entirely assured that it was worth the risk of going back and forth on the subway,” said Yaseen Saleh, a senior. But even if the subways aren’t that crowded, Saleh said it would be hard to adjust either way. “I’d rather let somebody else who needs [blended learning] more than me go instead,” he added. 

He is also choosing to look at the glass as half full, choosing to think about it as preparation for college. One comparison many have made to both justify and see the good in remote learning, is how similar it is to college, which presents students with irregular hours and a lot of independence. 

Saleh, who is full remote this year, agrees with that comparison. “It actually gets you used to what’s going to happen in college, and is actually very useful in preparing you for the next step.” College is nothing but independent work, and waking up at different hours of the day to go to your first class, similar to how remote learning is structured. 

Saleh also said that since the spring, many great strides have been made to make remote learning more effective and enjoyable. “I’ve really appreciated all of the support systems and structures that have been put in place by the school,” he said.