Hybrid Learning: In Hindsight

At first, I did not appreciate virtual learning. Life during a pandemic felt scary and quite frankly, miserable. As an only child, I felt lonely and irritated with my parents–never in my life had we spent this much time together. Luckily for me, my school went virtual just after our spring break, which meant only a couple more months of school to finish out the year. Despite the fact that there were really only two full months under this new learning model, going from 5 days a week of in-person instruction with 6 different classes a day to 4 was one of the hardest things I had ever done.

All of a sudden, I went from daily check-ins in class on essays and projects, to work periods and having to email for help: I faced an entirely new level of self-responsibility within only a couple of weeks. Of course, this did not go well at all. Reaching out to teachers when I had previously spent the entire year working diligently in class so that I could avoid asking for extra help felt like an impossible task, and even the idea of sending an email with a subject line somewhere along the lines of “Zoom for Extra Help” sent a wave of anxiety through me.

Luckily, my school implemented a rule where your grade could only improve from the one you had at the midterm of our second semester, which eased some of the stress when my chemistry grade began to slip (Suffice it to say, taking timed tests at home is not my strong suit). Soon the year came to an end, my grades hanging on by a thread, and my readiness to get back to life as normal at an all-time high.

Unfortunately for me, “normal” did not return for a long, long time. We began the 2021-2021 school year with a hybrid learning model, but went completely virtual for a couple months around the winter holidays. When I realized we would not be going back to our fully in-person model, the one that I was used to until the pandemic hit, I was upset. Given the state of my sophomore year chemistry grade, I think reasonably so. However, this time, I was determined to not let virtual learning get the best of me.

This past school year, I felt the same fear creeping back when I would get the urge to email a teacher I learned to swallow my fear and send the email–no matter how little the importance of the email. This began with short emails with links to articles I found that were related to what we learned in class or simple questions on where to find the homework, and evolved to longer emails asking to meet or for advice on an essay.

A positive to the hybrid model was that given the extra free time from not having to commute to school and having shortened extracurriculars, I was able to start working out, meditating, and volunteering with new organizations that were of interest to me! Though I still missed my friends in periods of time when we were completely virtual, and wished we could just have lunch at our old cafeteria tables, I learned better time management and faced my fears of communicating with the adults in my life.