A student’s perspective: “I’m learning more with distance learning”

While the transition to distance learning has not been the smoothest for all families, it has helped many parents and students experience the positive aspects home education offers.

For eighth grader Veronique Mintz, learning away from the classroom has not only improved her education experience but has also given her the opportunity to learn more than she did in school, according to her op-ed in The New York Times

Talking out of turn. Destroying classroom materials. Disrespecting teachers. Blurting out answers during tests. Students pushing, kicking, hitting one another and even rolling on the ground. This is what happens in my school every single day.

You may think I’m joking, but I swear I’m not.

Based on my peers’ behavior, you might guess that I’m in second or fourth grade. But I’m actually about to enter high school in New York City, and, during my three years of middle school, these sorts of disruptions occurred repeatedly in any given 42-minute class period.

That’s why I’m in favor of the distance learning the New York City school system instituted when the coronavirus pandemic hit. If our schools use this experience to understand how to better support teachers in the classroom, then students will have a shot at learning more effectively when we return.

Ms. Mintz lists several reasons she believes she is learning more—from being able to work at her own pace without interruptions caused by disruptive students to having more control over subjects that require greater effort and study.

I don’t have to sit through a teacher fielding questions that have already been answered. I can still collaborate with other students, but much more effectively. I am really enjoying FaceTiming friends who bring different perspectives and strengths to the work; we challenge one another and it’s a richer learning experience.

I’ve also found that I prefer some of the recorded lessons that my teachers post to Google Classroom over the lessons they taught in person.

I stop, start and even rewind the teacher’s recording when I need to and am able to understand the lesson on the day it’s taught. If I am confused, I attend my teacher’s weekly online office hours (which are 60-90 minutes long); there are never more than two or three other students present.

Schools should use the disruption COVID-19 has caused on education as an opportunity to improve the learning experiences of all their students, Ms. Mintz continues.

What lessons from remote learning can be taken back to the classroom? I have a few suggestions. First, teachers should send recorded video lessons to all students after class (through email or online platforms like Google Classroom). Second, teachers should offer students consistent, weekly office hours of ample time for 1-to-1 or small group meetings. Third, teachers who are highly skilled in classroom management should be paid more to lead required trainings for teachers, plus reinforcement sessions as needed.