When Gov. Mike DeWine first closed schools back in March, Billy McAnany said he was excited about the prospect of having a break.
“But, the more time that I spend inside, I kind of wished that school opened back up so that I could see my friends and actually talk to people and enjoy life,” said the Brookfield High School freshman.
Well, school is closed for the rest of the year, but the school district is still responsible for teaching and the students for trying to learn. Brookfield is using Google Classroom, where teachers post assignments and video lessons online and students log in to access them.
“It’s harder,” Billy’s sister, Sammy, also a freshman, said of distance learning. “It’s very, very difficult for me because I do better learning in class than this distance learning.”
Sammy said her favorite class is geometry but, “It’s very difficult because I can’t ask questions to my teacher. He explained it a lot better in class because you would ask different questions.”
Students can still ask questions via email, Google Classroom or videochat, but they might not get the answers for a day or two. Billy said he does not fault his teachers, who might be juggling questions from multiple students in different classes, but it does drag out the process of learning.
“Now, you have to wait a little bit and it really slows down the progress that you would normally make,” Billy said.
Lexi McAnany, a junior and big sister to Billy and Sammy, said doing schoolwork from home means more distractions.
“It’s been rough,” she said. “It’s hard for me to learn without being in school. It’s also easier to get distracted because you’re not in a classroom with other people.”
Anthony Rowe, an eighth-grader, said he doesn’t mind distance learning because he can learn at his own pace.
Anthony works on his school assignments whenever. His sister, Olivia, a sophomore, likes to get to her school work early in the day.
“I have two different types of children,” said their father, Tony Rowe. “Olivia is very spot on as far as getting everything done early. Anthony, I talked to him one night, it was 10:30 at night, and he says, ‘Oh, yeah, I gotta get something done by 11:59 because it’s due today.”
Olivia struggles with Spanish, “because she can’t hear and be with the teacher,” Tony Rowe said.
Sammy said working from home has resulted in a lack of motivation, whether it be to do her school work or go outside for a walk.
“I try pushing myself to do work, but I can’t do it, sometimes,” she said.
At least, Sammy said, she is drawing closer to her siblings.
“We see each other every single day,” she said. “You have to talk to people. Since I don’t go to school, I’ve been noticing I talk way, way too much.”
Some teachers are introducing new concepts, but the students said a lot of the work is review of things they have done previously in the year.
“It’s difficult to learn new topics without the teachers there to really teach.” Olivia said. “It’s definitely a lot easier to learn through video than just through text.”
Olivia said her schoolwork typically only takes 20 to 90 minutes a day to complete, and the other students agreed they don’t have to spend a lot of time on their assignments.
“I believe it will be progressively harder as time goes on,” Billy said.
The students said they were happy the state tests were canceled this year, but Lexi said she wonders what criteria is being used to judge their work and progress.
“I’ve been wondering that these last few weeks,” Lexi said. “Some of them grade them right away and it kind of freaks me out because, if I don’t know what I’m doing, if I don’t understand, I’m not gonna do well.”
With her senior year not far off, Lexi said she hopes to be back in school in the fall.
“I don’t want it,” she said of distance learning. “It doesn’t sound right.”