DLP shifts classroom dynamic upon return to school


Helen Roth

Though school is taking place on campus, Opinions Editor: Print Polina Dashevsky notices that learning habits developed over DLP still remain prominent in the physical classroom.

Polina Dashevsky, Opinions Editor: Print

Upon returning to school, I anticipated that classrooms would be overflowing with laughter, chatter and side conversations. Instead, I was startled, and simultaneously appalled, by the deafening silence that pervaded all my classes. 

Most of us haven’t seen our classmates for over six months. Thus, it is bizarre that a great number of students, myself included, would come into the classroom and wait in silence for class to begin. Throughout the class’ duration, the vast majority remained quiet and only spoke when the teacher necessitated conversation.

While it may be that the new social distancing seating arrangements or the compulsory use of facemasks hinder students from speaking up, Zoom and the Distance Learning Plan are to blame for the shifting classroom dynamics. 

Attending school from the comfort of my own home proved to have various benefits: I learned how to balance time, take responsibility for my learning and develop beneficial working habits. 

Zoom and the Distance Learning Plan are to blame for the shifting classroom dynamics.”

However, meeting with my classes on Zoom also had a vast array of disadvantages, the most notable being the lack of in-class communication. For most of my courses, class time was allocated in a way that barely entailed class discussions or conversations. As soon as all the meeting participants would have joined the Zoom call, my teachers would give us assignments to complete. After they would answer any outstanding concerns, the call would be over.  

Not only did this class environment undermine the valuable class relationships that we had grown accustomed to, but for the brief period of time that I would meet with my classes, many students would have their camera off. Seeing black screens instead of my peers’ faces drew a significant divide, as successful communication depends on eye contact, facial expressions and body language. 

Additionally, along with almost all my peers, I have become used to constantly clicking the mute button on Zoom. In the rare occurrence that we would have a Zoom in-class discussion, teachers would have to constantly call on students to unmute themselves. The manner in which teachers now have to urge students to participate in class discussions is highly reminiscent of the online in-class communication. 

It is indisputable that Zoom significantly impaired class dynamics. On top of that, the inability to go meet with teachers and peers during lockdown further spoiled the already weak relationships. Quarantine has appreciably reduced our person-to-person communication, as for months on end, our social interactions were limited to our parents, siblings and the house pet (if you are lucky enough to have one!). Consequently, it is unsurprising that during quarantine, many of our social skills transformed into a state of latency.

While many students kept in touch via a variety of social media platforms throughout lockdown and summer, it is indisputable that there are substantial discrepancies between in-person and online communication. When not in person, we can easily mask our feelings, attitudes and behaviors through short phlegmatic messages. In person, we have to deeply engage and involve ourselves in conversations. 

Every day, I am hopeful that the in-class environment we are all familiar with will return to normal. But to make that happen, the first vital step is to restore the in-class dialogue that we once had. We should not let the social habits we developed during the DLP prevent us from communicating and participating in class. 

While being one meter away from our classmates and wearing facemasks can be challenging, we have to make the best of what we have. Let’s start with bringing back meaningful and open class conversations.