Alayna Rodgers’ daily routine is not that different from every other student. She gets ready for school in the morning, chats with her friends before school and on breaks, attends classes, and does homework in the evenings, just like her peers. The difference is that her morning doesn’t involve a commute, her conversations with friends are on Snapchat, and she “logs in” to her classroom instead of walking through a door. This year, Evansville Day School provided families with the option to attend classes in person or virtually through their Synchronous Learning program. Day School implemented a variety of precautions to allow in-person learners to return to campus in a safe and careful manner. However, in-person school was not the best option for all students. This semester, 15% of EDS families have chosen to take advantage of Synchronous Learning.
Synchronous Learning is for students who choose to remain home due to health and safety concerns. The staff has worked vigorously to make the virtual experience as engaging and academically beneficial as possible, while still maintaining the integrity of the EDS experience. In the Primary School, each homeroom has technology for direct instruction with synchronous learners. Middle and Upper School classrooms are equipped with technology that allows students to link directly to the campus classroom and participate with live instruction. So far, students seem to be adapting well to the new experience.
Carter Deppe `22 shares, “I feel like I have to be more responsible because it's more likely that you can miss assignments and things like that when you do remote learning, so I really have to stay on top of things.” Productivity and reducing procrastination becomes critical in being a successful Synchronous Learning student. It is encouraging to see that so many students feel that the process is encouraging them to be more resilient and responsible in such a positive way.
Tristan Tas `26 feels the best part of Synchronous Learning is that he “gets to spend more time with [his] family and feel more organized and responsible.” Tristan’s encouraging attitude exemplifies the goals of the EDS Synchronous Learning option: to maintain a sense of unity and family, even when away from the physical classroom, while also learning to be responsible and render time-management skills.
Another priority for Synchronous Learning students is to have equivalent interaction with both teachers and peers during class time. This is achieved through large television screens, which were set up in the Middle and Upper School in classrooms. This way, synchronous students can be clearly seen and their voices heard in each class. Alayna Rodgers `22 reflects, “I’d say that it’s very easy to interact with my teachers and peers over Zoom. I think that since both my teachers and classmates know how difficult learning from home can be, they’re really trying their best to make it work and make it feel as normal as possible. So whenever I have to ask a question, my teachers are always there to answer it, and my friends are always waving or just saying hello.” Rodgers is glad that the teachers continue to strive to make Synchronous Learning as seamless and gratifying as possible. That experience will only continue to improve as the year continues.
Overall, this year has been quite an adjustment for parents, teachers, in-person and synchronous students alike. However, it’s safe to say that synchronous learners at EDS are handling the trials of school amidst a worldwide pandemic with grace. They demonstrate the traits of Day School’s Portrait of a Graduate to the fullest, by faithfully logging onto their online classes and participating every day. We optimistically look forward to the day when we can all be together in person once again, but until then, we continue to support, encourage and be proud of our synchronous learners.
Adeleine is doing a writing internship this school year with Evansville Day School's marketing department as a staff writer.