The New Normal

The semester is almost over. During this time, students and professors have been adjusting to the new work experience. However, the transition of some majors may be easier than others. What is it like to take an interactive course online? I talked with two students to see how they have been adjusting to this. 

Destiny Hicks, a senior at Radford University, is an elementary education major. Before the shift in the class dynamic, she was doing her work in-field experience. This part involved her going to an elementary school from Monday to Friday. Now that everyone has been advised to stay inside, that is no longer possible, and she has to take her classes on Zoom. 

So what has that been like for Destiny? “It’s been hectic. We attend staff meetings, grade-level meetings, lesson planning meetings, and random seminars on top of that. Each week I’m averaging about 3-4 hours of Zoom meetings, in addition to attending many conferences.” This isn’t just one of her classes, but all of them. 

Whether you’re in a classroom or taking the course online, the assignments can be stressful and living up to the expectations of yourself and your professor plays a part in that as well. Although she won’t have the field experience, she can continue her assignments through Zoom. Some of Destiny’s homework involves creating a parent-teacher conference with a student she tutored and assisting teachers when needed. 

This heavy workload continues with her working with a student-teacher to create lesson plans for science and social study classes. In a post-COVID-19 world, the expectations from her professors are still strict yet understanding. “…One of our professors is very strict about his expectations. Our other professor is just like, ‘Please try your best’.” 

Depending on the course or professor, being able to understand the material is better in person but at the moment, nobody has that choice. Her plate is full, but she’s not alone in this stress; so are her classmates. 

There are also unmet expectations, “As a future teacher I can’t help but partially feel like I will not be completely ready for my new job as I never got to complete my field experience. I feel like I paid for a whole semester’s worth of tuition but only received a few weeks of education.” 

Then there’s Lauryn Wiley, a Junior who is an Athletic Training major who worked with Radford’s women’s track team. “Imagine how hard and hands-on nursing is…that’s us, just for the sports world.” She had to complete 280 clinical hours. These hours involved going to clinical, rehab, eye doctors, and the physician’s office while having a side job and doing homework. 

Her typical day would start with classes from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm and clinical from 3-5:30. Some days she would have class at 6:00 pm and twice a week, her skills check would be from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm. Although her schedule appears to be scattered, she’s handled the transition to zoom classes well. This is dedicated to talking about upcoming assignments and making sure students have a partner for assignments. 

Keeping that momentum from the first semester can be hard to do, but it’s important to finish strong. Approaching these new challenges can be difficult, but possible. “This was our hardest semester in the program and even though adjusting is different, I have so much more time to sit down and study and have time to myself.” said Lauryn. It also helps that this has given her more time to complete her work and she has professors who are there to talk about their mental health. Destiny and Lauryn’s interactive portion is still there, it’s just not what they expected. 

Like many people across the country, these two are pushing through the best way they can, which is all we can expect of ourselves during this time.