NAIS, Independent Ideas, Climbing Mountains: A School Year of Ups and Downs by Grace Timan, grade 11

National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), January 2021, “Climbing Mountains: A Year of Ups and Downs,” by Grace Timan, grade 11.

Editor’s note: The pandemic has forced school leaders to make tough calls about staffing, safety protocols, and how and when to open campus. Teachers have had to quickly adapt to these changes, rethinking how they interact with students and deliver lessons. We don’t always hear from students about how these critical decisions affect them. In this week’s blog, one student shares her experience with learning during the pandemic.

The fall of my junior year at Mount Madonna School (CA)  was supposed to be a fresh start, but we were right back where we were six months ago—logged on for remote learning and looking at each other through computer cameras—and this time with the workload of junior year.

I couldn’t ignore the sinking feeling I felt upon learning that the administration had canceled the annual river rafting trip because of the pandemic. I remembered upperclassmen telling me to cherish every moment because they would be gone before I knew it. They were right. It has all passed so quickly, and now it feels ripped away before I get to hold on. None of us expected to be online for another year until we were virtually climbing mountains instead of driving up the one we loved so much to our campus.

During the first two weeks of virtual school, our teachers encouraged us, and I felt that they missed us almost more than we missed each other. Still, endless assignments flooded my inbox, and I felt hopeless. I struggled to find motivation without a physical environment to encourage me, especially as a student with ADHD. Waking up just five minutes before class, chugging an energy drink, and frantically hoping I won’t have to turn on my camera is not exactly a prime learning environment. Without routine and structure, it was easy to get lost in the void of Google Docs. However, the personal connections and relationships with our teachers have gotten me through to the second semester. They took class time to ask us questions about how we were doing, gave us extensions on assignments when needed, and understood when we didn’t feel up to turning on our cameras. Read more