Although we students are constrained to virtual learning environments, it remains crucial that we engage in them cooperatively and enthusiastically; the connections they promote are extremely important for establishing both professional and recreational relationships later in life.
It can be difficult to foster personal connections over Zoom because many crucial aspects of physical interaction such as body language, eye contact and facial expression are inaccessible in an online setting. However, these potential virtual conversations are our only opportunity to compensate for the lost social interactions we would have shared together on campus this year.
After spending a little over two years in high school, I have realized that the classroom shifts away from the stereotype of mutual disrespect between teachers and students. In fact, as students mature, school becomes a more collaborative community that allows them to explore how they contribute to communal environments outside of school.Thus, as students begin to explore their potential societal roles, student-teacher relationships that are fostered in the classroom become increasingly important to their transition from high school to adult society.
Behavioral and Social Sciences Professor at the University of Amsterdam Frank Wanders found that having more positive relationships with teachers during high school is associated with greater societal involvement as an adult. Healthy classroom environments can simulate communities similar to those of companies, organizations, charities and even residential neighborhoods that students may join later in life. These environments can lay a framework in students’ minds that familiarizes them with how societies function and their potential impact within them.
Our school’s administration presents its students with endless academic, athletic, artistic and extracurricular opportunities; however, the greatest opportunity that we as Wolverines are presented with is the opportunity to learn about ourselves and to use that introspective knowledge to establish our role in future societies.
For example, last year, one of my most memorable experiences as a sophomore was made while watching a field hockey game after school alongside my math teacher. I saw him across the bleachers, sitting alone and supporting one of my classmates on the team. I decided to go watch with him, and we began to talk about sports and life outside of school for the remainder of the game. For the rest of the year, he and I had that moment in common and understood each other better as people, not just as teacher and student.
Despite the circumstances that constrain us to a virtual learning environment, we must take advantage of the culture that the school has established for us by trying to form and sustain these types of relationships. The results of strong student-teacher connections are simply far too rewarding to allow a pandemic and a quarantine to deprive us of them.
During these tumultuous times, even the smallest gestures such as joining class five minutes early or unmuting your microphone when there is uncomfortable silence can help to foster and maintain connections with teachers that we would have otherwise bonded with in person.
In the coming months, let’s conquer the adversity that virtual learning environments have presented us with by actively pursuing relationships with our teachers.