Downfall of student engagement in school


By: Mikayla Hairston & Lydia Ayers

Some start the day by waking up late and walking to the computer for another school day. Others by putting their masks on and sitting far away from their peers and teachers. Here at GlenOak, these are the new normal.

All students and staff can see the difference this year. School may be going on, but past the homework and lectures,many students feel there is a lack of real learning. 

Early results of state testing show third grade students are behind a third of a school year compared with their peers last year.

Amid the pandemic, teachers have had to change and adapt their teaching to fit the guidelines pushed out to keep everyone safe. But because of this, the main part of school that engaged and motivated students was lost: student and teacher interaction. 

“I’ve definitely noticed a difference in the mornings and afternoons this year,” freshman STEM English teacher Angela Beshore said. “We don’t have a tutoring program anymore and in class I feel like I’m just always standing at the front of the room not being able to have as much one on one guidance as I normally would.”

With this, she also went on to explain how hybrid learning had been much different than ever before.

“Hybrid learning was hard because I usually only got to see my students in person one day a week. So if they get their work and they have a question, I’m not with them to help them with it,” Beshore said. “I think a lot of people at the beginning of the year are still getting to know their teacher so they might not be as comfortable emailing us which makes it a bit of a struggle too.”

High schoolers, specifically freshmen, have not been able to create that strong bond that most people would make with their teachers. 

“I haven’t really gotten very close with [my teachers] this year. I barely got to see them at the beginning of the year and even now we have to stay distanced most of the time,” freshman Madelyn Phillips said.

Some even talked about how hard it was taking that transition from middle school to high school within the pandemic.

“Usually freshmen get two days to come into the highschool before actual school starts. This year we really didn’t get that, so when we first arrived it was a big struggle figuring out how the halls work and where the classes were located,” freshman Giana Nakoul said. “Plus, our transition night the teachers weren’t there so we didn’t meet them until the first day of school.”

This struggle has been seen through all the different types of learning, virtual and non-virtual.

Freshman Niya Williams who has taken the full virtual route has a distinct opinion on this learning style.

“Virtual learning is different in many ways. One way is that they don’t really teach you things. You read the criteria for the lesson and then take a test. It’s rare that a teacher will actually explain the work outside of what the lesson already says,” Williams said.

From having to change lesson plans to not having the motivation, even many in-person have seen a change in how they feel and how the teachers feel at school.

“There’s less people since so many are still online, and there is less interaction between students and teachers, and I’ve heard a lot of my teachers talk about how much of the fun activities we didn’t get to do this year,” freshman Lucy Howell said.

Although it may seem harder, some actually find virtual learning and that independent style to be better for them.

“I actually do enjoy virtual learning. I find that being able to complete work at your own pace has been more successful for me,” freshman Angie Aikens said. “I do miss the in-person interaction with my friends though.”

With many hardships and adapting, it has definitely been a struggle figuring out how to get kids more engaged with less interaction. 

But for now, the hope is that Ohio will go back to a state of normalcy, and teenagers will be able to live the full high school experience.