How Students and Teachers are Coping with a Normal School Year

Mackenzie Pham, Staff Writer

It is 5:55 a.m and junior Gwen Nguyen is startled by her alarm. Sluggishly rolling out of bed, she slowly makes her way to get ready for another day. After her morning exercise run, Gwen begins to prepare for the new school day, packing her bags and making sure she completed all of her assignments, before leaving at 7:30 a.m. This is the start of many Woodson students’ days adjusting back to a normal, 5-days a week, school year. 

This school year has hit many students hard, especially those who are taking multiple AP classes and those who are involved in sports or other extracurricular activities. 

With the past year and a half being online, students have adjusted to a notion of “virtual learning,” which meant a four-day school week. As time went on, students began to lose their valuable study habits and strategies because with online school, these learning habits were not necessarily needed anymore. Consequently, many students now face the issue of not knowing how to properly prepare and study for higher-level assessments as well as to employ the important skill of time management. 

Photo by Zayna Shahin.

“Virtual learning presented a challenge in my learning process, which caused me to have to try harder this year to catch up and return back to the new normal,” said Nguyen. “Most days, I don’t even have enough time to finish all of my assignments without being sleep deprived the next day.” 

Teachers are not excluded from the difficulties of returning to school. Participation in the virtual environment was limited due to the lack of visual interaction, but that has not completely hindered student participation in class this year. “The student’s ability to participate and focus in class has not changed,” said AP Chemistry teacher Mr. Richard Raimondo. “But their skills, specifically in computing math, are not as good as previous years. But we will continue to practice and improve as we go.” 

Similarly, AP Biology teacher Mrs. Kinne is “overall very impressed” with how students are returning to classes. 

On the contrary, some teachers have had issues with cell phone usage in the classroom. “I do think there is a problem with students getting distracted by their phones,” said Spanish 4 teacher Sra. Stephanie Graham. 

“And it probably stemmed from the pandemic where there was no one to regulate when and where students could use their phones,” said Sra. Graham. “Many developed this notion of ‘multitasking,’ which consisted of having one tab open while on their phones and/or listening to music.” Academically, there has been an overall trend in lower grades compared to pre-pandemic years. “Yes, there is a little bit of a decline, but the beginning of the year is always challenging just getting back into the routine,” said Mr. Raimondo. “And it is even more challenging this year because students are coming back from a year and a half of online learning.”

In addition, Sra. Graham expresses that “for some students, [she has] noticed lower grades, but it is normal for the start of a new year.”

Photo by Kara Lynch.

There are several techniques and tips that teachers recommend students implement to be successful in their classes. These will hopefully lessen the amount of time and effort put into each class while still achieving maximum results.

“It is really important to work with the teacher and to get help immediately,” explained Mr. Raimondo. “It is better sooner than later to get help in the subject so that you can understand the material before a major assessment.” 

Mrs. Kinne also emphasized the technique of “active recall as opposed to just reading over the textbook or your notes” as well as “not multitasking and to really focus on what you are studying so it sticks in your brain.” 

Finally, Woodson students and teachers take a look into the future to examine if they will be affected by current events. 

“I was worried about students not being prepared for post-high school plans anyway, but a lot of time has gone by, especially for the juniors and seniors who are about to go into the real world,” said Mr. Raimondo. “But there will always be time to mature, so I have confidence that all Woodson students will be successful after high school.”