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Students navigate return to normal education

FRI. | 10-29-21 | FEATURES

     20 minutes until the bell rings. Looking around the classroom, I start to notice my peers working together, deep in conversation. The group to my left all laughing at a joke one of them said. Last year around this time I was sitting in my room staring at my computer screen, alone. 

     Returning to full capacity this school year has helped many students and teachers return to their education normally after being mostly virtual the past two years. Students and teachers can form stronger relationships with each other and are more engaged when face-to-face.

     Sophomore Chris Saja Kalapurackal was one of many virtual students last year who felt like it was harder to learn behind a screen.

     “It was harder for me to stay on task through a screen because the teacher was basically teaching the students on Canvas,” Kalapurackal said. “I personally felt that less attention was given to virtual students.”

     Kalapurackal was in-person the first semester and virtual the second semester, so he had personal experiences with both.

     On the other hand, math teacher Beth Gallup shares her struggles as a teacher trying to reach kids despite having to teach online.

     “The biggest thing for me teaching online was the lack of connection with the kids because it is so much

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Photo by Anna McLean Evans

harder to build relationships with someone across a screen,” Gallup said. “I thrive on the connection with people so I think limiting our ability to build relationships was really tough.”

     The student-to-teacher connection was missing from the classroom last year and it was difficult to communicate for many students. 

     “I often had trouble finding out the answer to a question and also had trouble approaching the teacher for a solution in a way that I would not interrupt her,” Kalapurackal said.

      Like many Rose students and staff, Gallup was beyond excited to be back in the classroom and resume forming relationships with her students after a year of online teaching.

     “It’s overwhelming because it has been so long, but it has been such a fresh start to the school year,” Gallup said. “I love being back in the classroom, I love seeing the kids, I love seeing their desire to interact because I feel like we have been pulled back from being able to interact as much.”

     Many students are just as excited to be back to all face-to-face learning as well. Finally getting that social interaction back can help with the learning environment in school.

     “I have been able to interact and understand others more clearly this year, even though I can't see the faces of my friends, it is better to know that they are there in my class,” Kalapurackal said. “Being able to talk to others changes everything with the learning dynamic.”

     Students are eager to not only return to in-person classes, but also participate in extracurricular activities that Rose has to offer. 

     “This semester, honestly I think we have done more activities so far than we used to pre-COVID because we desire that interaction so bad,” Gallup said. “We have really jumped into building relationships, talking to and working with our peers, and interacting as much as possible.”

      Rose students and staff are looking forward to that interaction and the rest of a “normal” year in hopes that they will not have to go back to virtual school. This includes more understanding and collaborating in subjects, new relationships forming and social events at school.

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