Long Road Ahead: Interaction amidst Distance Learning

Riley Baerg

Bellarmine’s 2020-21 school year thus far has been quite rough. The motivation to get up and participate in zoom calls is dwindling and students that are struggling have had few chances to bring change to an insufferable format. Faculty and administrators alike have strung together opportunities to bring our great community closer together but alas the recent coronavirus case number surge has forced the school into a corner. The only way to get through these trying times is through student feedback.

Mid-way through the month of October, Bellarmine released a survey to gain a census of how students felt about their first few weeks of distance learning; the AABB schedule was a fluke and 8 a.m. starts proved difficult to manage along with student sleep and the workload divvied out by teachers. Thankfully the school acknowledged the feedback given by its students and on Nov. 9, the ABAB schedule was reawakened, along with the new 9 a.m. start, tranquility and order restored to the students who have worked so hard to keep up with these trying times.

“Personally I was getting kind of used to how the AABB system was going, especially with how long we had in between classes to do homework but I think that the return of the ABAB not only keeps me on task more but makes sure I do my homework in a more efficient manner,” said senior Yvan DeVera.

Efficiency plays a big role in how many students interact with their school work; sometimes the time it takes to complete these assignments piles up and has many students developing bad sleep habits. This 9 a.m. start also brings “a nice touch because that extra hour of sleep in the morning and the shorter classes keep me from getting distracted and keeps me more focused on the task at hand,” DeVera admits.

After discussing with many students and faculty, it is obvious that working in a home setting while important learning is going on can be a big distraction. It has also become apparent that due to staying in this setting for so long that the average attention span begins to dwindle. So how can Bellarmine aspire its students to keep their heads up and focus on the task at hand?

Sadly, there is no simple answer into what administration can piece together to fix this issue fully seeing as students are different and learn in their own way. The best thing that a student can do is provide feedback for their teachers. The administration asks that the average time college prep class teachers homework should take is 30 minutes and AP/Honors teachers giving out an hour worth of material a night. The simple and respectful way to notify your teacher that the workload is overbearing is to just let them know that the assignments given out exceeded the amount of time it should have taken. These times are hard, and hopefully notifications of how the course is going will be met with grace.

Returning students have an upper hand with knowing things about the school that freshmen and transfer students don’t. This distance learning poses a different kind of difficulty for those who don’t know their way around a high school setting. The updated schedule has changed a path for some in a way that they will now better understand the dynamic of Bellarmine. “The new schedule provides ample time to get work done, which we didn’t really have before,” said freshman Philip Ehret. “Work felt chaotic with everything we had to get done each day, but now it feels a lot easier to handle.”

The reality has started to set in for BPS students as we have a long road of distance learning ahead, that means the conditions of this learning deserve to be improved. So far administration and faculty alike have done well at adapting to the changing times, along with pushback from the rising number of coronavirus cases by changing the schedule and becoming more interactive during these online days. Knowing that the state of Washington is at this point back into lockdown, the probability of returning to campus before the start of the second semester is unlikely. The only thing to do now is to make the most of it and stay motivated enough to make it to the finish line.