Fitch High School’s New Way Of Learning and Teaching

Students at Robert E. Fitch High School gave the Falcon Press their feedback on how this new way of learning is going for them. When asked three questions about distance and hybrid learning, these students had both  positive and negative things to say.


 “I personally work better in a school environment, which helps me keep me in the moment and focused,” says 10th-grade student Tallulah Ghantous. “Being at home makes it easier for me to be distracted and end up doing tasks around the house rather than sitting at my desk doing work.” A common trend that emerged in student responses is that the hardest part of hybrid or full-distance learning is that it’s hard to keep up with all of the work that they’ve been receiving. Students also say that it’s hard to sit at a desk on a computer from 7:30am-2:00pm. Another common response  is that students have said that the easiest part of hybrid or distance learning is how every class has a check-in assignment that counts toward  your attendance for the class, and how in some ways school  is more structured this year for students and for teachers. “The easiest part of the new way of learning for me is the check-ins,” says another 10th-grade student, John Carrasquillo. As  a student myself,  I can agree with their perspectives, and according to one teacher, some staff feel the same way as the students do. “If I were a student, I would miss the old way of learning.  I would miss all the things high school has that we cannot really do right now.  All of it. As a teacher, I miss it as well,” says Amy McKenna, Department Head of English at Fitch High School. 


A graphic sent out by Groton Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Graner in early October 2020 shows that there were 25% full distance learners and 75% hybrid learners in Fitch High School. With the recent school wide shutdown for the last two weeks, will this data change drastically with an increase in distance learners? “In all cases, the students seemed fairly well adjusted to the hybrid model, but almost everyone agreed that they would prefer to come back in-person when it is safe,” said Dr Graner. As someone who has switched to a full time distance learner because of the circumstances and the shut down, I can agree that when it is safer I would love to go back to school. 


When the students I interviewed were asked to think about the current method of teaching and how it will affect them as a student, they all had different opinions. “If I was a teacher I think it would be tricky because it’s hard to communicate with the students when they’re at home,” says 10th-grade student Abbagail Estrada. A question like this is hard to answer because students aren’t in a teacher’s shoes and don’t know how they’re really feeling. 


Because these students don’t know how it feels, I decided to ask my Writing Center teacher, Mrs. McKenna, three questions that were similar to what I asked the students, just from a teacher’s perspective. Mrs. McKenna says, “Without question, the hardest part of the new way of teaching is not seeing my whole class in person each day.  I miss it every time I see them in a Zoom room.  I miss my classroom being clustered into groups where students laugh and learn together.” Tallulah said something similar when I asked her how she thought teachers were doing with all of this. According to Tallulah, “If I was a teacher I would probably be quite sad having to work with students over a computer screen or only being able to see half of their faces in person. Having some students be full distance and others being hybrid must be a lot of pressure to make sure every student is getting equal learning opportunities.” 


It is safe to say that this new way of learning and teaching has affected everyone greatly, but as a community we are all working together to make the best of the situation.