Learning through the Tears by Leticia Harshman

Learning through the Tears by Leticia Harshman

After reading Erika’s reflection, Leticia wrote a response as she imagined a high school freshman might experience the same day.  How are the students you know coping with schooling and learning in this age of COVID? 

Learning through the Tears

Leticia Harsman


If you want to know what learning during COVID is like, let me explain.


Learning during COVID means occasionally crying at the end of the day. You’re not really sure why’re crying, but after getting home from school, or turning off your last Google Meet (if you had to learn from home today), you lie down on your unmade bed and realize you have tears in your eyes.


It could be because you’re exhausted from trying to learn from a computer screen while also listening to your little brother in the other room doing the same thing and focusing just feels impossible.


Your unmade bed, the silence of the room, and the endless reminders to “wash my hands and wear my mask” everywhere you go is enough to bring you to tears.


You might be crying because you have 12 unread emails, 7 unread directions for assignments due that week, and the text messages from your friends keep piling up and you don’t know how you’re going to find time to respond to everything.


You might be crying because you’re not a nurse but you just self-diagnosed yourself after running through the list of possible COVID symptoms for the 10th time today, and you don’t understand how this has become your responsibility in order to stop the spread of the virus.


The tears could be from the fact that you still haven’t heard from several teachers about questions you had about your assignments, and you’ve already sent them three separate emails with no replies since Monday and it’s Thursday, and you’ve reached out in whatever way possible, but somehow, it’s still not enough.


You’re also probably crying because the stack of incomplete assignments on your unmade bed continues to grow taller and the list of incomplete online assignments gets longer, but you just don’t know when you’re going to have time to do everything because you’re trying to create an entirely new way of learning from home and understanding the content.


The fact that you need to watch a teacher’s recorded lesson for the next day’s assignment while simultaneously helping your little brother make his way through his own homework could also be a reason for the tears.


You might be crying because you want to go to school to see your friends, and half of them aren’t there on the days that you go, and you don’t have any IT training, and yet now you’re expected to somehow solve technological problems from home and at school when a video won’t work or an assignment won’t load.


The fact that your school is woefully unprepared for a pandemic and that all the teachers still don’t have devices or internet access is definitely enough to bring you to tears.


The tears have possibly come because you’re really good at building relationships with friends, but you’re finding that connection to them is gone in a virtual setting.


Once you think about your friends, you also might start crying when you realize you probably wouldn’t even recognize them with a mask, which means you don’t even know what your friends look like when they smile, and that breaks your heart.


Once your school has gone all-virtual, you might be crying because you’re expected to attend all Google meet classes, make sure your connection is good, keep your camera on the whole time, type in the chat, join breakout rooms, watch the live recordings, and complete all assignments before time runs out. This makes it feel like your brain has 52 tabs open at all times, and the stress of that is overwhelming.


When your school switches from virtual learning to hybrid with only a week’s notice, you probably start to cry because you have been given no training about how to learn hybrid and your Google search has not yielded any promising results.


You cry because you’re worried about your mental health, and your little brother’s mental health, too.


After you hear that yet another student in your class has tested positive for COVID, you might cry, because you’re surprised by how worried you are about them, not to mention your own fear of possibly contracting COVID from them.


You’re also probably crying because you feel like no matter what you do, you aren’t doing enough.


You cry because you’re panicked and you don’t know how to do all of this. Nothing in your schooling has prepared you for this type of situation, and all you can do is put your head down on pillow in your unmade bed and accept defeat.


To be honest, you’re crying because every single thing listed above has become a weight on your shoulders, and although you’ve stoically carried it for months, it has finally become too heavy to bear, and the only way to release that weight is through the tears that have clouded your eyes.


And once you’ve wiped away those tears, you do what every student heroically does: you just keep going, because you know that global pandemic or not, your little brother needs you.


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Peter Simonetty
Peter Simonetty
2 months ago

I really enjoyed this post and the perspective of a responsible but sad and frustrated student navigating through online courses during Covid. I could really feel for this student and I was impressed by the student’s conscientiousness. It made me think about the impact this must have had on students who were less conscientious. This really highlighted how at risk students were! It is scary to think of the potential aftermath.

Nicolette Durso
Nicolette Durso
2 months ago

After reading this blog, I felt connected to the writer and what she was saying. I was never able to go back to in-person high school after COVID started. My school had reopened, but my Mom had so much fear that I was unable to go back. I missed out on a year and a half of in-person school, seeing my friends, and seeing someone other than my Mom. We only left the house for a brief walk and even though we were outside she still made us wear a mask. I cried because I missed school, because I missed my friends, because I needed help on assignments, and was told by my teachers that if I didn’t understand it then I should be in person instead of online. There was no support. I was on my own. My Mom even went back to work, teaching in-person in a classroom for 3-year-olds, but even then I couldn’t go back. After reading this post, it made me feel thankful that someone other than me understands my struggles because most people I talk to about it think I’m over-exaggerating.