Jackie Collver, Writer

This pandemic has made teachers’ jobs harder. Finding out ways to teach virtually and in-person at the same time has doubled their workload – checking Teams to make sure everything is where it needs to be, planning lessons and making videos for days where students are not at school and, not to mention, teaching in class, amongst all these other things, is a lot of work. Imagine doing all this and trying to engage students who have gone a bit…quiet.  

Student participation during class has dropped dramatically in many classes. Wearing masks and maintaining distance between students are surely the major contributors. Masks can make it difficult to know who is talking in class and create problems with being able to understand what the speaker is saying. 

Even though we need to wear masks to keep the school safe and open, they make it more challenging to interact with each other.  

So, with so much space apart and masks covering up smiles, it isn’t a surprise that students aren’t talking much. 

Also a contributing factor is the fact that group work is out of the question. Without a chance to share your ideas in small groups or with a partner beforehand, it is intimidating to address the whole class. 

Despite this, though, not all classes are so quiet. “Most of the teachers just call on us, so we’re forced to talk,” said sophomore Kiera Creet with a laugh.  

“In my smaller classes, or in classes like choir (where we already knew each other from previous years), it is definitely a much more fun and engaging social environment,” said Annabelle Heun, a junior. “I have also noticed that in some of my bigger classes where people don’t know each other as well, no one really makes much of an effort to try and interact,” she added.  

This situation is made worse by the fact that students only get to see each other two days every week. With a week in time since students last saw each other, it’s difficult to make and keep friendships going – especially if it isn’t during a student’s fourth period, where they stay for lunch. It’s hard to remember faces, with masks, and to connect these faces with names.  

With all these factors, it isn’t shocking that classes are silent. It is important to realize that teachers and students are trying their best in this weird time. Sticking together and helping each other is more important now than ever. In order to do that, we need conversation! So, step out of your comfort zone a little bit! Start a conversation with the guy that sits next to you in biology, smile at someone you see in the hallway (even if it’s weird with your mask on). Try your best to engage with others around you, and hopefully they’ll do the same for you. You’ll feel a whole lot better when you reach out to others. By engaging with classmates, you’ll help classes be less awkward, and make both new and veteran students feel welcome.