Students struggle to connect in remote school

Months into the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, students and teachers have been carrying out their school days at their desks at home. This system has produced a flurry of responses from the whole community. Although community-building has proven difficult through remote learning, unexpected advantages and positive sentiments have led to new hope for the coming school year.

In a Sagamore survey conducted in early October, over all grades and with 141 respondents, students expressed concerns as well as satisfactions with the remote learning model. (GRAPHICS BY ELSIE MCKENDRY)

Freshman Tina Li said that although teachers have been well-prepared and enthusiastic, a lack of student engagement has made it difficult to connect with her classmates.

“A lot of times teachers seem to be the only ones talking while everyone else stares blindly at them. I understand building a community virtually is hard, but school doesn’t feel like school without it,” Li said.

Many students have said it is difficult to get to know their teachers and fellow classmates. Senior Caroline Viola said she hasn’t had sufficient opportunities to get to know her teachers and suggested that teachers try and create more chances to build those connections.

“Try to reach out to individual students, whether you’re emailing each student to say hi or popping into individual breakout rooms,” Viola said. “I’ve had very few one-on-ones with my teachers and I feel like it’s hard for us to know each other and communicate without that.”

However, junior Giulia Liberatore said she hopes that community-building and all of its perks will get easier with time—a hope shared by many with hybrid learning kicking into gear.

“I hope that it will get easier to build community between my peers and build a more relaxed relationship with my teachers, instead of having the teacher always rigidly recite to us and only communicating to them through formal emails,” Liberatore said.

Remote learning has presented some unexpected positives in terms of community within the staff. Spanish teacher Lindsay Davis is one of many faculty members to report newfound unity and support throughout this process.

“There is a tremendous amount of collaborating happening across departments which is new and improved. Sharing is caring and there is so much of both surging through the faculty now,” Davis said.

Many students, including freshman Tina Li, want teachers to know that students are there to help however they can.

“I want my teachers to understand that although teaching must be super hard this year, there are students like me who are willing to participate and learn,” Li said, “We are in this fight together!”

World history teacher Jennifer Barrer-Gall said she hopes that students will gain some new perspective from this experience.

“Learning content matters, yes, but right now I hope students learn more about themselves—in terms of their ability to empathize with others, be active members of their communities and take care of their own physical and emotional needs,” Barrer-Gall said.

English teacher Rob Primmer said that although the way school looks and functions has been changing constantly, the school’s values have not.

“The core of what BHS teachers want remains the same,” Primmer said. “We want to challenge you, to support you and to connect with you, regardless of the how in which this is accomplished.”