First remote semester

Students and teachers look back on first remote semester

While there are mixed feelings about schooling from home, the experience that comes with completing the first official remote semester will hopefully yield a superior rest of the year. 

Remote learning started in March 2020, but only now have the students and teachers of Jones finished their first all-remote semester. 

John Remiasz, math 4B and calculus teacher, has seen an upward trend in grades in comparison to in-person learning in many students. 

“The [class] averages are significantly higher,” said Remiasz. “In the 4B course the average is usually around 89 or 90, and now it’s at a 93.”

Talia Scott ‘23 has a few ideas of why this increase is happening.  

“I think [the tests] are easier, and there are less traditional tests and more projects and classwork because the teachers don’t want people cheating,” said Scott.

Teachers have reason to decrease test difficulty and the number of assessments. This is not only to decrease cheating but also because remote learning fosters a more difficult environment to learn and test in. 

“The remote setting makes it a lot harder to focus in class,” said Elizabeth Abrams ‘22. “I’m surrounded by my bedroom so I have a lot of distractions that I wouldn’t normally. It’s just harder to stay engaged, which in turn makes me less likely to grasp the material as well, and then eventually that makes it more difficult on tests and quizzes.”

While grades have gone up, student interaction has gone down. With many students turning cameras off and not participating in class, it has become more difficult to form bonds between students.

“I don’t know my classmates as well, and it’s especially awkward in breakout rooms and things like that. I’ll unmute to start the conversation and it’ll just be a wall of silence,” said Scott. 

Remiasz has noticed this as well, even without being a part of the student body. 

“[Participation] is limited in small groups,” said Remiasz. “Typically in a small group when I am going around the classroom I will hear them helping each other out. A big part that’s missing for me that I love about a Jones classroom is the student-to-student interaction.” 

With the pros and cons of remote learning, changes have been made to the second-semester schedule. This includes changing the Eagle Day Wednesdays to modified C-days. There are mixed feelings about this change. 

Scott worries about the inability to do work but is trying to have an optimistic outlook.

“I think academically it hurts because you don’t have as much time to do homework, but I think teachers will do things that aren’t related to their subject, and that might help with the community of the class,” said Scott. 

Teachers understand that this new schedule can take away from students’ work and relaxation time, and they are doing what they can to remedy that. Remiasz is using his 30-minute period to go over supplemental work that would have been cut but advises students to only do what they feel the need to.

“I tell my students that ‘if you have time to do [supplemental work] you can do it, and if not that’s totally cool. You can just use it as a study hall and you don’t have to answer any of my questions. Mute your tab and work on what you need to work on. Use this day how you want to use it,’” said Remiasz. 

Abrams used her Eagle Days to relax and is worried not having that time will be tricky. Even with the new schedule, Abrams is optimistic over semester two considering how semester one went. 

“I’m pretty worried about it even though it is only a half-day. Everything is packed into it and it’s just going to be difficult to stay motivated and prevent burnout,” said Abrams. “But I actually felt really good about semester one.”