Is procrastination my main enemy during this COVID era, or is there a more profound reason behind my lack of work?
I wake up early every morning, except for the days where I sleep through my alarms and I’m late to class. I shower and I eat breakfast. I go to my room and I put an outfit on — the part of the day I look forward to the most — and I log on to Zoom. I unmute, say, “Hi Ms.” or Mr., and I take my phone out to text my friends about how horrible school is.
Teachers don’t hold us to the same standards of effort compared to in-person learning. I don’t blame them because I think a lot of us are unmotivated and reluctant to complete any work.
For the past month and a half, I’ve been able to do more self-reflection and meditation than ever before. I’ve made discoveries about my identity, and my connection to the people and environment around me. I’ve been able to produce several articles that I’m proud of for “Teens in Print,” and I’ve had valid and vital input on the Institute of Contemporary Art’s teen arts council. So, why does it seem like the technical and academic side of me has stalled?
I was in New Jersey for the start of the school year. Much like Boston, Jersey City started to open up and lean away from its heavy restrictions and COVID mandates. Both cities made massive mistakes in doing this, in hindsight, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t snatch that freedom and run with it much like every other Bostonian or New Jerseyan while I could. I was going to the mall, going to the movies, eating at restaurants and was constantly out of the house.
Fast forward to now, the holidays are nearing, and surprisingly the overall holiday joy seems the same as it’s been every year before. The first term of school has ended, and when I look back on it I see that I’ve improved a nice amount of my midterm grades.
Should I feel guilty? The biology worksheets that we’re given are incredibly easy for students to read, answer and pass along to other classmates. It’s disheartening to those of us that continue to drive on empty to get assignments done. The teacher assigning that work is actually a substitute and a former algebra one teacher, which should explain itself. Also, a failure to communicate my eighth-grade knowledge effectively, which landed me in algebra 2 for freshman year, has also now come back to kick me in the behind in precalculus.
This school year isn’t all about potential cheating and regret, though. I’ve excelled in my Spanish class, and I’ve begun to pick up the language quicker than I had been in person. Humanities is going well, too, because of how easy it is to unmute and say what’s on my mind without being the center of attention.
I’m not angry or sad that school has been a bit rocky this year. It seems like these situations where the students and teachers contract COVID and students lose motivation to put effort into the work have been happening around the state. Many schools started hybrid learning only to be shut down due to surges in cases. As that happens, do we look at the schools or the people at the top? The governor and the superintendent are leading the schools around the state into danger, and now they must quickly backtrack to save themselves from any more damage. Students also have to be consulted in how this school year runs — I’m not talking about a small zoom call and a “thank you so much for using your voice” response, either. Students need to be validated, and they need to be able to see the change that’s so desperately wanted.
It seems that teachers are following a virtual version of the in-person teaching rubric. Why don’t we create a completely brand new rubric with new lesson styles, new ways of communication among teachers and students, and new forms of learning? Following a stale, or too-lenient form of teaching will only result in stale or satisfactory learning. Why settle for satisfactory when we can reach beyond that?
I’m a junior in high school. This year my grades count more than they ever have before for college. Do you think I want to walk into college with my head held high using grades I built like a child piecing legos together?