The transition to online school has been a new experience for students at Sequoyah School as well as students all over the world. The Barefoot Times recently surveyed Sequoyah high school students in order to learn how online learning has affected them. The survey showed that stress levels are high and motivation is down. Of the 39 students who responded, about 69% of students surveyed said that their overall mental health has worsened during online learning, while the other 31% said it was better than or about the same as during in-person school.
When asked about how they keep up motivation, many of the students that were surveyed noted that their main motivation is the future. Doing well now, they believe, will help them later. Tenth grader Adrian Crick stated, “I try to think about what colleges I want to go to, what I want in my future, and think about what I have to do to get there.[…] I try to think about the long term, and then go from there.” Ten out of 27 students that responded to this question on the survey seemed to have lost substantial motivation, explaining how hard it has been to wake up in the morning.
Additionally, students were asked about how they feel about their online learning experience in general. Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed said they have trouble focusing on Zoom, while 54% of students said it takes more time to complete their homework, even though 59% of students said that they have more free time. In an interview following up on the survey, Sequoyah ninth grader Hollen Flagg stated, “I think the hardest part for me about online learning is just Zoom fatigue, because I’m always so tired after.” Notably, no students felt that they are better able to focus on Zoom than during in-person classes.
When asked if there was anything that Sequoyah could do to make online learning more effective, 10 of the 24 students that responded on the survey said that there was not much the school could do and that Sequoyah is doing well with the options available. Other feedback mentioned that Sequoyah has been and should continue to be as engaging as possible, in particular by making use of games and presentations.
Many students shared what has helped them learn more effectively. Students stated that the Sequoyah Family Portal allows them to quickly find and turn in assignments, that office hours allow students to talk to teachers about work, and that in-class engagement helps keep the school experience alive.
Tenth grader Charlotte Dumont was asked about what has helped her in terms of online schooling. Dumont responded, “Probably having the Wednesday schedule when we don’t have normal classes even though it’s still a long day. I think it’s helpful not getting homework on Wednesday and having things due Thursday, and then just catching up on work you maybe didn’t finish for Tuesday, [which] you can then turn in Thursday.”
According to the survey, social connections are a big part of the learning experience. Many students noted how much they miss social interactions with their peers. For example, Flagg noted, “if I could change anything, I’d probably give more social interaction with other people, because that’s one thing I really miss as well.” Some surveyed students said that it has been harder to reach out to people during this period of online learning. Others responded by noting their experiences in class as awkward because there is no personal connection.
Tenth grader Axel Stash said that scheduling out his day after school has helped his social connection experience. “I’m practicing guitar. I’m doing Discord calls with my friends. If you’re not doing anything, you can get very lethargic. You need to keep yourself occupied, have a schedule.”
This experience has been challenging for so many students. For those who are struggling while learning remains online, perhaps it would be a good idea to draw on the suggestions of their peers and try to find a hobby or make time to talk to friends.