Loss of motivation while learning at home

Lack+of+motivation+and+routine+leads+students+to+struggle+academically+during+distance+learning

Designed by Preston Meier

Lack of motivation and routine leads students to struggle academically during distance learning

Preston Meier, Writer

Students of OHS believe the COVID-19 pandemic is negatively impacting their educational experience, but some think it could be a blessing in disguise. As COVID-19 numbers soar, the Owatonna School District moved all schools in Owatonna to distance learning until January 8, 2021. Students at the Owatonna High School have already had experience with distance learning last spring. Along with distance learning, school activities have been pushed back or are also virtual.

Students have to adapt to virtual learning and also deal with the uncertainty of future events. Sarah Kingland is a senior at OHS and she thinks dealing with the pandemic is very hard for seniors who are trying to make plans for after high school. Kingland is involved in many activities at OHS including basketball which has been pushed back this winter. Kingland said, “I am unsure of how the pandemic will affect my plans or what I am able to do. It is difficult to tell what the future holds, which limits the plans I can make for the future.” 

Younger students think this uncertainty is not a big deal and it is better to not overthink things. Freshman Ethan Peterson said, “The uncertainty doesn’t really affect me. I just go with the flow everyday.” Younger and older students have been going through this pandemic with a very different mindset on how this uncertainty will affect their future. 

The struggle is real

OHS has been seeing students struggle more from learning at home, Principal Mr. Kory Kath said, “We have noticed more students struggling which leads us to believe that we will see more students not pass all courses. This is troubling as we have fewer ways to connect with students or offer person to person support.” Virtual communication is about the only way to connect students to teachers and this interaction occurs a lot less from home compared to in person. Sophomore David Smith said, “I feel teacher interaction is limited, but goes well when I need it, teachers are very quick to respond to email or google chats when I need help.” Even with virtual communication some students still find it hard to learn the lessons and feel they are not interacting with their teacher as much as they need.

We have noticed more students struggling which leads us to believe that we will see more students not pass all courses.”

— Mr. Kath

During this distance learning period students feel the learning isn’t as interactive and find it difficult to do their assignments by themselves. Junior Izaya Vazquez said, “Distance learning is difficult when you have to do an assignment by yourself. It’s difficult to get help without having a google meet with the teacher.” Vazquez believes that it is harder to learn at home because there are not enough available resources to help him understand the lessons and assignments. For hands-on learners it is harder to grasp what they are learning without in-person interaction with their teachers and lessons.

Getting a routine

Students feel that they have been going with the flow throughout distance learning with not a lot of structure or routine. Routines can be a very important part of students’ learning, Smith said, “I think routines are very important especially for students to get all their work done on time and still stay active in their classes.” Most classes during this distance learning time are work at your own pace, which does not allow students to have a set routine. Also, not every class is the same every day, with some classes requiring a google meet one day and then an assignment the next day.  

Kingland thinks this is a beneficial thing because it allows her to do her work when she wants to. Kingland said, “I enjoy being able to have my own schedule and work in a way that benefits me the most.” Other students try to keep a routine the best they can in order to stay on top of their classes. Vazquez is one of those students, he finds it easier to get his work done in the same order everyday. Vazquez said, “I like to do my work by starting with the longest assignment and finishing with the shortest one. But it also depends on what other responsibilities I have to do that day.” Students at OHS say this can all be a difficult balancing act, but they believe that the distance learning experience now compared to in the spring is an overall better experience. They feel that they have a better understanding of what teachers expect from them on a daily basis. 

I catch myself getting behind in classes because there is no one to hold me accountable.”

— Alex Huemoeller

Distance learning has definitely affected students’ ability to have a set routine every day, some students enjoy this freedom while for others not having a routine can lead to procrastination and not getting work done. While trying to learn at home, students find it can also be hard to gain motivation. Junior Alex Huemoeller believes this is because there are no teachers or classmates to keep her on task. Huemoeller said, “I hate how hard it is to get motivated and it’s even harder to keep motivated. I catch myself getting behind in classes because there is no one to hold me accountable.”  The staff at OHS is working hard to help students connect with their teachers on a daily basis. Mr. Kath said, “We reach out to students daily about attendance and are seeking ways we can help make sure they are able to connect with their teachers. We want all students to have a clear path to passing all classes and we will find a way to support them as much as possible.”

The students and staff of OHS are working hard to adapt to virtual communication and learning, to keep on track during this school year. This distance learning period can be challenging for students without the in person interaction from their teachers and peers. But, although distance learning can be difficult at times, students have found some positive aspects through it all.