As a student who’s always maintained good grades in school, and was never the type to fall behind weeks in class, it’s been frustrating to lose my streak of excelling in school. It’s been difficult to watch as I procrastinate on weekly assignments and fall into the never ending cycle of apologizing to my teachers for lack of effort, just to repeat the same behavior the following week. It’s even more difficult to try to explain that I do prioritize school, but if I care so much about it, why do I seem to lack the motivation it requires to be successful in school like I used to be?
The CDC published a study on the toll that online classes can take on students’ mental health, “Findings suggest that virtual instruction might present more risks than in-person instruction related to child and parental mental and emotional health and some health-supporting behaviors.” The reason behind this being the drastic change in our routine includes new psychosocial stressors that negatively impact mental health. With the lack of a healthy mind and behavior, it’s difficult to have the desire and motivation for homework and online meetings when that seems to be the cause of it all. It’s difficult to get the support you need as well, while the school provides a support system, how can you put into words, without sounding lazy, that you just can’t bring yourself to do your schoolwork?
Explaining to your parents the decline in your grades and effort is hard as well, due to the fact that they’ve seen you give your best effort, and how all of that has just seemed to vanish. Now you have the weight of all the missing schoolwork, concerned teachers, AND upset parents. When the CDL learning was first announced, it seemed as if everything was going to be so easy to do. Laying in bed at home doing school sounded like a dream! All those days in person wishing you were just home finally came true, but the reality of it turned into a reality of losing motivation and piling up of stress.
It’s easy to come off as lazy or just unmotivated when describing the difficulty that CDL learning has brought. Being in in-person school your whole life with factors such as face to face teacher support and peer support to help you do your work, it’s such a drastic change to suddenly have that be gone, and to suddenly be your one and only motivator. The American Psychological Association also published an article on the reasoning behind the decline of mental health and participation in online learning. “Those moments of working alongside a friend or asking a teacher for guidance allow students to feel connected to others, and this sense of belonging influences students’ engagement in class…We have taken away the context that supports their engagement in school and their overall well-being, plus they are dealing with the tremendous uncertainty about the future.”
The lack of feedback from teachers has been difficult as well. Questions that used to take two seconds to reply to now can take up to 2 days to get a response email. Sometimes questions aren’t even needed until the assignment gets started and by then it’s too late. I can’t even begin to imagine how overwhelmed teachers are with distance learning, and to add on top the stress of wondering why students are not doing their work and are failing. Along with this, the constant changes made to the plan for online learning, with all the back and forth that occurred about the return date, and then when we returned, the rumors about going back into lockdown and then now to have to plan the new school year and what that will bring for us. It truly does sound exhausting and I admire the work of all teachers and staff for having to determine these things.
Overall, CDL has been difficult to say the least. With all the changes, it’s difficult to navigate through everchanging and unknown factors that COVID-19 has brought. It’s caused a lack of motivation and participation for students and has overwhelmed many people, including me. If anything, it’s allowed me to stop taking things like school for granted.