Teachers, we appreciate all you’ve done (but we have a few requests)

A thank you note and conversation

Editors-in-Chief+Karthik+Yalala+and+Aaliyah+Yan+reflect+on+the+first+semester+of+perhaps+the+strangest+year+in+Algonquin%27s+history%2C+offering+feedback+and+thanks+to+faculty.+

Lindsey Rodman

Editors-in-Chief Karthik Yalala and Aaliyah Yan reflect on the first semester of perhaps the strangest year in Algonquin’s history, offering feedback and thanks to faculty.

Karthik Yalala and Aaliyah Yan

Dear teachers and administrators, 

After completing one of the most unusual semesters in Algonquin’s history, as The Harbinger’s Editors-in-Chief, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on it. 

We would first like to thank our teachers, administration, nurses and staff for how they adapted incredibly to this year’s unique circumstances. You’ve worked tirelessly to ensure that our students’ education is not put aside. To be completely honest, we were unsure how sustainable the hybrid model was and how long it would last before the whole school was shut down. But to our surprise, we are still going strong with hopes of having four in-person days a week. We never imagined we’d be dreaming of more time in school, but as seniors who have had many high school memories stripped away that we will never get back, we look forward to being in school and having some sort of normalcy again. 

Teachers, thank you for working so hard, even on the weekends and on breaks, to make sure we students can still get the same experiences as we would if we were in school despite having to completely change your lesson plans and teaching methods. Even with those challenges you took the time to have important conversations with your colleagues and students about topics previously not brought up enough in the classroom such as taking care of our bodies and mental health or how to become more inclusive as a community. Students will carry these dialogues wherever they go in their lives, and it will help us remember how much you cared to help us through this incredibly difficult time. 

But there are also some things we would like to touch upon, coming from two try-hard students. We’re struggling with how to put this type of feedback into a letter, so we figured letting you “listen-in” on a conversation for a bit might work best:

 

Aaliyah: So where do we even start? I have to say one of the most painful things of remote learning has to be Zooming for six hours straight. It’s so hard for me to stay focused, especially with home distractions and phone distractions. 

Karthik: That’s why I look forward to my in-person learning days, and we seniors only have a limited amount of school days left. Unfortunately, those days are crammed with assessments because that’s the only time our teachers feel they have to give them to us. I would much rather do them at home on my own time. For example, some teachers are doing timed Canvas tests which could be done at any point throughout a remote learning day. 

Aaliyah: I know! Because there are only two days we’re in person, teachers like to pile on tests. Some of my friends have had days where they have a test in every class except gym. And while we do have a lot of time on our remote days to study for them, we also have to do the asynchronous work on top of study for like five tests… It’s definitely not easy. 

Karthik: Studying for all those tests and quizzes on remote days sucks. You know what’s worse than having to study for all of those assessments? Having to do meaningless busy work the same day just because we’re required to do some work on our remote days. We’d much rather watch related videos about the topics we’re learning in class or do review exercises so we won’t need to study that much when it comes time for the tests. To add on to that, occasionally these assignments are locked until the morning it’s assigned. There are times I want to get ahead on the work on my remote days if I know I’m going to be really busy, but if the assignment is locked I can’t get it done.  

Aaliyah: Another stressor is Sunday night. Yes it’s the weekend, and yes it’s my most dreaded day… My reasoning? Every Sunday I get bombarded with emails and Canvas notifications with teachers putting in the week’s assignments and getting in grades. I mean I guess props to them because they are being productive and getting ahead in the week, but I’m sitting here looking at my never ending to-do list tab on Canvas thinking, “This is going to be a long and painful week.” 

Karthik: Looking at that seemingly endless to-do list makes my unmotivated sorry self more unmotivated. There’s so little to look forward to my senior year; I mean all the fun events of junior year were cancelled and all the fun events of senior year also were never able to happen. 

Aaliyah: And I know it isn’t the teachers’ fault because there is a curriculum to teach, but trying to keep the same pace and teach the same content as last year makes learning extremely difficult. I mean, we already have less class time and have to sometimes teach ourselves content on remote days, so when it comes time for a test I don’t feel prepared and often scramble to go over the material I was never able to understand in the first place. 

 

We truly appreciate everything all the teachers have done for us this year. We know this year has been utterly miserable for you, too, and you show up every day trying to help us learn and help us do well in a difficult time. But we also hope you take into consideration some of the things we mentioned. Administration, you’ve been supportive and working hard, too, but consider supporting teachers in the “less is more” approach. Sometimes it truly is.

We also have one more suggestion. Stop saying, “I’m about to share my screen” during a Zoom meeting every single time you start screen sharing. Believe it or not, we figure it out pretty quickly (:

Sincerely, 

Your concerned citizens,

Aaliyah and Karthik