Connection and communication are essential for the growth and success of an individual. For teenagers in particular, hanging out with friends, having extracurricular activities and other social events generally take up the majority of their free time. During this global pandemic, Mashpee schools have recognized that fact and made the effort to connect students, teachers, parents and administrators. From having daily Zoom meetings to constant communication through email, students can stay in contact with their peers and teachers daily.
At the beginning of each remote class, students log onto their Zoom. Depending on the expectations of that specific class, these Zooms last anywhere from 10 minutes to the entire class. Zoom allows students to see and hear what is happening in the real classroom as well as connect with those who are in-person or schooling from their own home. In addition to Zoom, email has been an easy way to ask questions and get answers in a timely manner. I often find myself needing to ask clarifying questions, and I am able to easily do that through both email and Zoom chats.
While there are such strong efforts for everyone involved with the school to stay connected, there is a remaining need for more connection. I find that when students are all home, they are lacking face-to-face interactions, but when they are at school, the masks are a barrier between having comfortable conversations. For months, the only people I’ve seen are close friends and family and people on my sports teams. Some students have continued to see most people, while others have a very small circle. It seems as though so many of us have had so little communication and connection that we may have forgotten just what that is.
I am currently the first chair in the Mashpee High School orchestra, but that doesn’t mean much this year. With the small numbers of students in class at a time and more than half of the students at home, it is almost impossible to play music as a group. In all of my classes, independent work takes up the majority of assignments. From recording a song I learned on my own, to filming and editing my own project in Media Production, to writing essays and watching videos online, I have had a lot of time working on my own. For that reason, I always appreciate any opportunities that I get to collaborate with other students in-person and online and have open conversations.
Coming up on almost a year since everyone was initially quarantined and separated from one another, many have gotten very good at using technology, social media and other virtual platforms to connect and communicate. But is that enough? I miss seeing everyone and sharing memories together like school dances and being in the fan section at sports games. I have quite literally grown up with all the people in my grade, going to school with all of them every day since I was in 1st grade. With the inability to have the school at full capacity, there are so many people that I haven’t once seen since last school year. To say the least, it’s strange.
One thing that has been difficult to create in this year’s school scenario has been strong connections. When I go to class in-person, which happens every other week, most classes have five or fewer people there. Since there are also people on Zoom, there is a disconnect. That said, having conversations and taking the time to check up on one another is so critical for our continued growth and commitment to having strong and positive relationships. Teachers of mine such as Mr. Troyanos and Mrs. Troyanos have taken the time on many occasions to check up on me and other students. This is one of the reasons I still look forward to going to school. With all that said, it is so vital that we continue to make the effort not just to have connection and communication but also that this is at the forefront of teaching and learning.
Clara Signs is a senior in the Class of 2021 at Mashpee Middle-High School.