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
1 year 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
1 year 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.

Michael Bohman
Michael Bohman
9 months ago

I was in college when COVID hit and I consider myself very lucky for that reason. It was still very difficult and I didn’t enjoy taking online classes and the stress of everything was at times very intense. But my professors were very understanding, the workload was admittedly lightened due to the nature of virtual learning, and I was able to finish my assignments with a high level of success. I have often imagined what COVID would have been like in high school and it was always bad but never something to this magnitude. I never imagined students crying at the end of every day, sometimes for two continuous years because of differing school policies on COVID. I never imagined the stress that COVID would have caused if I was 15 or 16 years old and trying to figure everything out. Whether I like it or not, COVID’s affect on students will continue to impact teaching and education for years to come and I will have to be sensitive and responsive to that as an educator. I’m grateful for this insight on the pandemic from a high school student’s perspective because it’s something I never had and I know that it will inform my teaching and my sensitivity to student’s needs.

JoBeth Johnson
JoBeth Johnson
8 months ago
Reply to  Michael Bohman

I have also considered myself lucky to have finished high school before the pandemic hit. I cannot imagine how hard high school and especially elementary school would have been completely or even partially online. I think college classes are much better equipped for online learning. Students are more independent, connected via email and online learning platforms with the university/institution, and more adaptable (generally speaking). Primary and secondary education relies much more heavily on in-person activities, engagement, and communication. I agree that this insight into how online learning during the pandemic made students feel is extremely helpful. The effects of the pandemic will surely continue to affect both students and teachers alike, and this is valuable to keep in mind. We must continue to use what we have learned from the situation to make learning a better experience for all involved.

Chiara Ricupero
Chiara Ricupero
5 months ago

I love the raw reality of this post. I was graduating high school when COVID first arrived and it was so hard. My siblings and I were all trying to figure out the chaos of school from home while my mom was trying to teach in the room next to us. It then turned into having to make sure that I was always aware of who I was seeing, where I was going, and the activities I was participating in. Getting hit with COVID as a student was hard, but as I learn how to become a teacher it also makes me realize how difficult the adjust was and still is for teachers. Thank you for this real post. I hope other students and teachers will see this and realize the difficulty of learning and teaching in a post COVID world.

4 months ago

I found this article very interesting and it is another perspective that explains how this setting feels and puts the emotions into words. Thinking about how it felt personally when COVID hit brings another aspect to how I will adapt as a teacher to help students go through trials and help them get through whatever hard times they might go through. As a teacher, I will be playing a huge part in how they feel, and making sure I keep everything fair for them will be something to focus on in order to help them.

3 months ago

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