A First Day of School Like No Other
School Buzz reporters Viola Holmes and Alexis Westlake both attend the British International School of Houston. Viola Holmes chose virtual learning this year and Alexis Westlake chose in-person learning.Here, Viola and Alexis share their perspectives on these new experiences.
Viola Holmes on virtual learning:
Thursday, Aug. 20 marked the start of a new school year at BISH. Early that morning, hundreds of students awoke bright eyed and bushy-tailed (well… maybe not all of them), ready for a first day of school like no other.
Some put on their uniforms (with the significant addition of a mask) and left early to get to school on time, while others like me, merely checked that their laptops had enough charge and sat down to start school from their homes. Unlike other schools in the Houston area, BISH was allowed to open for in-person school, but also gave the choice for virtual school. The mixture of in-person school and virtual learning resulted in a significant change in the learning format from last year; however, our teachers rose to the occasion.
This year, instead of driving to school for orientation, excited to see friends again and find out new schedules, orientation was attended over video. And rather than consisting of meeting teachers and receiving syllabi, it included explaining the new rules and safety precautions for learning.
For us in Year 11, starting our last year of the iGCSE program, the first week and a half of school are spent studying for our delayed midterms which were supposed to happen back in April. However, even just doing revision virtually in most classes comes with its own challenges. The teachers have to make sure virtual students can see, hear and participate in class, while also managing the new COVID-19 procedures with in person students. In addition, the length of online lessons is a change from last year where we only had 30-minute sessions per class, sometimes less! Now that some are back in school, lessons have become full length again (requiring us to need to charge our laptops a lot more often!). While the difference in the first day of school from last year is extreme, teachers are adapting quickly to the new format, and I’m sure that soon we will all become experts at it.
Alexis Westlake on in-person learning:
Starting back on Aug. 20 was a huge change for a lot of the kids at BISH. A portion of the students were online and the rest came back in person. I was one of those students and it is a lot different from last year. Desks are now positioned appropriately to keep us six feet apart at all times, and it is just one student per desk. Each class is much smaller as only 12 students are allowed in a class at a time, and we all have to wear a protective mask for the entire day, with the exception of lunch, snack and when drinking water (also P.E).
All our classes are situated in the same area of the school and most of the time the teacher comes to us. However, the thing that made it so strange is that even though we were in person at school, a lot of our work was still situated online. This is because our teachers are not allowed to hand out anything to us, nor can we hand any work in and, due to half the class being online, it just makes it simpler and easier for the teachers to keep track of.
Even though the whole dynamic of the school has changed, and we can only see half of our peers faces, it is still like the ordinary school day. All our teachers are just as lively, work us just as hard, and we all have just as much fun learning.
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