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Make no mistake, COVID-19 changed the classroom for me and my friends, as suddenly, we had so much to do, with little time to comprehend the tasks.
Students across Australia and New Zealand had to make a huge adjustment in March when schools in both nations were shut as part of the general lockdowns because of the coronavirus outbreak. This was going to be a steep learning curve for me and my friends. Our lives weren’t all about our devices, but then when everyone got sent home, they suddenly were.
My friends and I found it really hard to do school online. It was hard to comprehend the tasks and the information because there were so many distractions, such as phone, food, family, and pets. Social distancing was especially hard during school holidays as I wanted to see my friends and hang out, but we were all forced to stay at home. I feel like the school gave us more work than they would normally to make up for the fact that we were doing school from home, so I felt overloaded even/especially during school holidays.
Our teachers were frustrated as they found it challenging to present and go through what was required during each class. Also, there were constantly technical difficulties with using Zoom. It was confusing on Zoom as nobody could really raise their hands, people were talking over each other. It was confusing to manage the class.
Remote learning was definitely harder than being at school. Periods were shorter than normal, so teachers always felt rushed and I never felt like I had time to really finish what was being taught, or to really comprehend all information I was being taught.
A lot of us had to adapt to using software packages as part of our daily school routine. The only times it felt easier was when, for example, in English, we are subscribed to a learning platform called Education Perfect, because the focus wasn’t on the teachers having to communicate everything to us, as work was already set out on the platform. Teachers have pre-selected a topic and lesson which they could then just allocate to us, and I was able to press on with completing the task which had background and supporting info which helped me complete it. So, we weren’t wasting time being given tasks and having to understand clearly what was required.
The big differences
What I definitely missed most about school during the COVID-19 lockdown was my friends, because they help keep me entertained during the day. I also missed my teachers – in the classroom, there aren’t any distractions and you can really focus on your lesson. Using my computer all the time was really difficult. I was getting constant headaches from having to focus on the small screen all the time, which affected my concentration.
To be honest, I never felt like I could get used to it; it was especially bad as we needed to complete assessments online, which directly contributed to our end results and report, and because we were at home, people had the opportunity to cheat, which I didn’t, so there was a bit of anxiety about how some people were going to perform abnormally well, which will push the rest of us down in rankings. So yeah, worrying about outcomes overall once we are back at school was really concerning for me.
Schools in NSW went back full-time on May 25. It was really strange being back in the classroom. It was really hard having to wake up early again, which for me is 6.45 am as school starts at 8.10 am. Not being able to eat what you want, when you want, also took some getting used to! Overall, I like the routine of school life, so it was great to be back.
Being able to wear your pyjamas all day was definitely what I liked most about learning from home; I don’t think it could be made part of regular classroom life, though. Apart from that, at home, I have a really comfy desk chair, but at school, we sit on hard chairs. Technically, it was good to be able to get work done and take notes as the teacher was talking, like, in the background, as when I’m in the classroom I always feel like I have to be 100% focused on the teacher.
Seeing my friends again after such a long time that made me appreciate being back in the classroom. That, and seeing my teachers, and appreciating how much they care and how hard they work to make learning fun for us. Our teachers had gone to so much trouble and spend so much extra time delivering lessons and making learning enjoyable for us during COVID-19, I’m feeling extra appreciative of everything they do to support me and my peers.