Screenshot from Wayland High School newsletter
With COVID-19 causing a massive change in the WHS normal school schedule and students being in-person only two days a week, many teachers have been forced to alter their curriculum. The Connect class, a class that seniors can take that counts towards their English and history credits, is one of the many classes that have seen a huge modification to their usual agenda.
Under normal circumstances, Connect is a project-based class, but with the hybrid learning model, this has been hard to come by. Although it’s his first time taking the class, senior Jason Haims has definitely seen the impacts that COVID-19 has had on the class.
“I would say the class was originally very social, so being broken into two different cohorts affects the way we can engage with each other,” Haims said. “I think as a class we could work harder to better connect with the other cohort.”
This year, the Connect class decided to diverge a bit off the regularly scheduled curriculum and change it to something that genuinely interested the students.
“Girls in our class became involved in a small business venture where they were growing a flower farm outside of school,” Haims said. “This obviously was not part of the curriculum or anything, but our teachers recognized their passion for this project of theirs and the lessons that could be brought about from learning about entrepreneurship in a specific industry, so we took a trip to the sight that they’re making the farm on and helped them dig as well.”
Haims believes that helping out at the flower farm allowed students to personalize their education and enjoyed how both cohorts were able to join together as a group.
Over winter break, Haims thought of an idea to run a cross-cohort film festival over Zoom where everyone could present a five-minute video that interested them.
“The teachers loved the idea and it ended up being very fun as we got to connect as a class and watch interesting short clips like sports highlights, stand up comedy bits, motivational speakers, interesting hobbies, satisfying videos and more” Haims said. “I think it really did help bridge the [gap between the] two cohorts.”
One of the reasons that this unique experience can happen in the Connect class is because of its adaptability and flexibility within its schedule—something already a part of the class prior to this year. In the Entrepreneurship and Business Management class, students are assigned a group that is attempted to be cross-cohort, but as senior Mason Fitzgerald noticed, sometimes it just isn’t very effective.
“I think that sometimes, especially in classes that need people to work with their partners like EBM, teachers are just using class time to work on assignments with kids at home,” Fitzgerald said. “This makes it pretty awkward as pulling up a computer to [log onto] Zoom when you’re literally in class just doesn’t feel right.”
In core curricular classes, there isn’t nearly as much flexibility, and the process behind learning has differed greatly. In some cases, students don’t need to attend classes online at all and in others, it’s sometimes a guessing game on whether students must log on during a certain day. Junior Jasper Scherz, a Cohort A student, has taken Latin for the past three years and has really acknowledged the difference in the schedule.
“The fact that we have Wednesdays off and that we don’t even have to come into school on Thursday’s and Friday’s really feels different,” Scherz said. “I really don’t think I can adjust back to the five days of in-school learning we had before. When I compare Latin in previous years to this [year], it’s drastically different. The workload is a lot less and every class is also segmented strangely.”
In the end, what students make of a class is up to them. However, many acknowledge how much effort the teachers have put into making this new and strange schedule work.
“The teachers still put in a lot of effort,” Fitzgerald said. “This schedule is new to everyone, and the teachers are doing their best to still make class tangible with the other cohort. There will always be some things that are weird, but in the end, classes are still pretty good as we’re still learning as students.”