Letter from the editor: making the most of virtual school for students

My+first+day+of+school+photo+looked+a+little+different+this+year%2C+namely+a+laptop+with+%2212th+Grade+-+Coronado+High+School+%28Zoom+Edition%29%22+typed+on+a+Word+document.+Virtual+school+can+be+beneficial%2C+but+students+need+to+take+a+few+steps+to+make+the+most+of+their+experience.

Photo courtesy / Luis Gasca

My first day of school photo looked a little different this year, namely a laptop with “12th Grade – Coronado High School (Zoom Edition)” typed on a Word document. Virtual school can be beneficial, but students need to take a few steps to make the most of their experience.

Instruction via video-conferencing apps was not what I envisioned for the first week of my senior year, but city public health officials deemed it necessary. Despite the multitude of changes that online school brings, complaining about it won’t change anything.

We all experienced some form of remote learning in spring, yet the last nine weeks of the 2019-2020 school year were somewhat of a “survival period” as we all got acclimated to the new educational tools and routines. This school year, by contrast, is beginning with online learning as the present norm. It is imperative, for our own personal success and the success of Coronado, that we treat virtual school as an effective, equally important alternative to traditional school.

Focus on learning

Homework, tests, and projects may not look the same as usual, but learning is still the fundamental goal of school. Do not complete assignments solely for the grade. Make sure you understand the material, and ask your classmates or your teacher questions if you do not. Content comprehension will be helpful for later tests and, likely, future classes. Plus, there is the added benefit of additional knowledge.

Find a study partner

Try to have at least one classmate per class with whom you communicate. They can help you remember deadlines, understand difficult concepts, and study for tests (and you should do the same for them). Make sure to pick someone responsible and focused and not someone who will distract you from working. If you do not already know someone in the class, pick someone with whom you believe you would work well and contact them on social media platforms, Remind, or GroupMe. Even though this may seem daunting, the rewards far outweigh any fears.

Actively participate in class

Although virtual classrooms do not naturally offer the same sense of community their in-person counterparts do, participation during class can certainly replicate it. A class is more likely to be enjoyable when students are asking and answering questions – without being called on first. No one will judge you for it; in fact, they might be grateful for the livelier atmosphere.

Arrive early

It is tempting to spend every moment of the breaks between classes outside of the virtual classroom, but it is not the best idea. Not joining until right when class starts – or worse, after class time has started – makes your teacher wait longer for everyone to arrive, which takes away from learning time. In addition, it gives off the appearance that you are not that serious about this class, which damage how your teacher perceives you. Be a few minutes ahead of schedule instead.

Be patient

As always, teachers have a multitude of responsibilities, but the difference now is that some of the technologies they are using might be somewhat unfamiliar to them. If your teacher is struggling with a program or website, be understanding. If you know a way to help, please do so. We are all learning this school year.

There is no perfect roadmap to guide us through virtual school, but employing certain strategies can make the experience better for everybody. Above all, remember to work hard and remain optimistic!