Brianna St. Denis
I slowly open my eyes to the all-too-familiar buzzing sound coming from my phone. After a few snoozes, I look at the time to see 8:29 a.m. Realizing class starts in one minute, I quickly sit up, grab my laptop and make a run to my desk. It’s another day of messy buns and sweatshirts with sweatpants for me. I sign in to Zoom to see the faces of my peers who, a year ago, I used to sit next to in a classroom.
When we started remote learning, I felt unmotivated to learn subjects online and disappointed that I did not get to experience a regular classroom setting with my friends. But months of adjusting to this lifestyle have altered my perspective on online learning.
While it’s easy to get caught up in all the things we are missing out on, we should not overlook the benefits of being at home. Yes, it’s tough not having a “normal” high school experience with my friends, but the undeniable benefits of online schooling has me questioning if I really want to go back to in-person school.
In the beginning, everyone worried that online classes wouldn’t work, but in a lot of ways, Zoom classes work better for me than in-person classes. I dare say that I have even grown to speak more in my classes thanks to Zoom. Not having to feel everyone’s eyes on me when I raise my hand to speak has allowed me to not hold back when I have a question or comment during class. Another surprisingly key element of my learning is how comfortable I am during my classes. You may think that sitting on a couch would be distracting, but I’ve come to realize that I learn the best when I am the most comfortable. Being in a pleasant position with a cozy blanket allows me to focus on what my teachers are saying, maybe even more so than if I were sitting in a school chair and desk. Now, I am not saying that FSH should add some couches to our school classrooms, but I would encourage teachers to remember the benefits of teaching to students who are comfortable, both physically and when it comes speaking their minds.
My favorite part of online school, though, is the miraculous act of sleeping. Yes, the extra hours of sleep make virtual learning worth all its struggles. It boggles my mind that I used to get up at 6:30 a.m. every morning, get dressed, drive to my carpool and then drive to school all by 7:50 a.m. I bet you can guess what I do now at 7:50 a.m. I am in Paris or Italy eating wonderful food in my dreams as I lie softly in my bed, asleep. Wednesdays are even better because I can sleep in even more. I think I am starting to really grasp the importance of those sleep lectures that my mom has given me for years, because now I realize that I need many hours of sleep to be a functioning student. I see myself doing better in school and putting more effort into my work now that I am getting more rest, and for that, I am grateful.
In addition to the extra sleep that online school provides, Wellness Wednesdays are an ally in helping me stay rested and maintain my positive mental health. Having that day in the middle of the week to get caught up (and even ahead) on schoolwork has become crucial to my weekly schedule. Not only does it give me a chance to breathe, but I also can take extra time organizing meetings and other activities that I need to. Though the start of the week used to feel overwhelming, I now can look forward to these weekly, asynchronous school days as an opportunity to destress and put my self-care first. I try to do some meditation or go on a walk in the mornings to clear my mind. Hopefully, these truly beneficial Wellness Wednesdays can continue in at least some way when we go back to in-person school, because they have honestly made my year.
I know we will be back in school eventually. But coming from someone who started off this virtual learning experience hating it, I have come a long way. I now see the benefits and moments of happiness that could not have been possible without online learning. I only hope there can be some aspects of it that continue as we transition to school back on the Hill. Until then, I will be pretty comfy in my sweatpants.