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Learning in a pandemic: Eastern Iowa students navigating through the challenges and successes

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 5:31 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The classrooms and faces may be the same, but learning is anything but for students like Ian McKinney. The Linn-Mar High School junior is currently learning through the hybrid model.

“Probably the biggest adjustment is just the back and forth between going in person and online,” said McKinney. “This week, I am online Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and I’m on campus Tuesday and Thursday.”

TV9 caught up with him at his Tuesday French Class. Then, the next day learning from home. He likes some of the changes, like what teachers are asking students to work on.

“A lot of the teachers have gone to more project assignments, and I like that because I feel I am able to get more in-depth,” he said.

However, there are also parts that don’t go smoothly during virtual days.

“Being at home, it can be a bit crazy just because sometimes internet issues. I would say another thing is it is a bit awkward to participate because you don’t know if somebody in the class is saying something,” he added. “It takes a lot of self-accountability to stay afloat academically with online.”

School isn’t just about the formal learning. The school experience includes connecting with people, and for many, getting support when they need it most.

“I know a lot of people pre-pandemic have been diagnosed with mental issues, that just talking to them it seems like it’s been rough. Even if you don’t have stuff like that, it’s been tough for a lot of people. School is their main point of social interaction,” McKinney said.

McKinney says he found himself reaching out to others more, and says realizes that maintaining relationships requires effort.

“I think keeping that interaction open, even if it’s just stupid stuff like, who won the football game. I think that’s important,” he said.

Throughout all the challenges and successes of this school year, he says he’s taken away a big lesson.

“The biggest thing I learned is if you’re willing to work with other people, they’ll be willing to work with you. When teachers are going to school to become teachers, there’s no teaching during a pandemic 101 or anything like that, and I think that they are really in the same boat as us,” McKinney said.

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