By Serena Qiao Lan Zheng and Nathan O’Reilly
If you haven’t been living under a rock the past 12 months, you’d know about a little thing called COVID-19.
Covid-19 has taken over many things, such as... everything! This has forced teachers and students out of the classroom and into their homes. Forced to continue to teach and learn but from a distance.
First of all, we need to ask ourselves the question, what is remote learning? Remote learning is also called distance learning, students and teachers are not in a classroom, instead they are learning/teaching at home through online classes.
We have been remote learning for over a month now, this is done in an effort to stop the spread of covid-19 in Ireland since cases increased drastically after the Christmas holidays.
Advantages of remote learning:
There are a number of advantages of remote learning. The most obvious advantage of the lockdown is controlling the spread of covid-19 and reducing the contacts between people. Remote learning allows students to work at their own pace and take breaks when they need to. Students can wake up later than the usual school day which means they can get more sleep. They also have more free time to spend on their hobbies and interests.
Disadvantages of remote learning:
While some students really enjoy remote learning, others are totally opposed to it. Some students need to be told what to do, they need a structured schedule to follow. Learning from home can be quite difficult, students find it hard to learn and they procrastinate even more. Some students may not have access to computers at home so it can be difficult for them to complete assignments or attend online classes. Remote learning also results in a lack of socializing, many people feel alone because they miss the opportunity to hang out with friends. One particular student said ‘I find it really hard to learn new things, it’s a really hard time’.
For older teachers, it can be challenging for them to use Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams as some of them are not good with technology. Many teachers are saying that they miss having conversations with students, they feel like they’re not communicating enough so they don’t know the students’ needs. Mr. Bergin said that ‘I can't wait to be back in a classroom with students where you can see if they are understanding what you are teaching them, with the interaction on Teams it is very difficult to judge that’
Teachers are also saying that they miss teaching in a classroom where they can see the students’ response and enthusiasm. Ms. Doyle went on to say that she ‘misses all the friendly faces and is counting down the days to our return to the classroom, student personality and voice is what makes a school and remote teaching is taking that away from us’ .Although the teachers at Woodbrook College are looking forward to the return to school, we may be a long way of just yet.
What is our school doing?
Woodbrook College is doing their best to help students. For example, they have the Feel Good February Running/Walking 30km Challenge to motivate and encourage as many students as possible to take part and get active. They also provide online classes, prerecorded class and post work to Microsoft TEAMS for students to complete. They also survey students on their thoughts and feelings about specific teaching methodologies and run virtual student council meetings – student voice really counts here! Our school is doing their best, but a return to the classroom is much welcomed, we miss our friends and teachers!