The 2020-2021 school year is almost here. With September quickly approaching, a number of U.S. high schools have announced their plans to transition to a hybrid schooling approach this fall, a decision that directly affects students in grades nine through 12.
If the term “hybrid schooling approach” is highly unfamiliar to you, you aren’t alone. So what exactly does it mean, what should you expect this fall and how can you prepare for success?
What Are Hybrid Classes and What Might the Fall Schedule Look Like?
Hybrid, or blended, courses are much like they sound — a combination of in-person and remote online learning. Under such a model, you might virtually attend your English class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, you would attend that class in person at your school.
This is similar to the approach that Jones College Prep, a public magnet high school in Chicago, intends to follow. Freshmen and sophomores will be divided into small pods designated A or B. One pod will have two days of in-person instruction, followed by one day of live online instruction and then two days of independent online work. The other pod will start weeks with two days of independent online work, followed by live online instruction on Wednesday with the other pod, and then two days of in-person instruction.
Meanwhile, juniors and seniors will stay at home 100% of the time.
New York City public schools administrators have tentatively planned multiple models for high schoolers. For example, they can be in the classroom one to two days per week or have five in-person days within every two-week period, with the exact in-person day or days rotating. Some high school students will be allowed to choose fully remote learning.
While individual high schools and teachers will ultimately decide what happens in person and online, certain curricular guesses can be made. If your class involves labs, as in the case of biology or chemistry, those labs will almost certainly happen in person. Your teacher may reserve lectures and research projects for online days, and classroom discussions could take place in either format.
Having No Experience With Something Like This, How Can I Ensure My Success?
Adapting to hybrid learning can be challenging. “Students thrive on routine, and a hybrid schedule breaks that routine,” Brian Galvin, chief academic officer at Varsity Tutors and a master’s degree recipient in education, said in an email. This means that your ability to organize your time and your belongings will be even more important.
“Leaving a notebook in your locker is a bigger deal if you can’t go back to it for several days now,” Galvin warns, “and asking a seatmate what the homework was isn’t an everyday option.”
Once you receive your hybrid schedule, determine how you will stay on top of assignments and materials. This might be as simple as setting up a homework to-do list on your phone, or as complex as creating separate “at home” and “at school” sets of materials.
Your outlook will also be crucial. As you have probably already noticed, the novel coronavirus and the measures we take to contain it are highly dynamic. School district plans seem to change from week to week, and it is unclear how long you may need to learn under a hybrid arrangement. Some schools may even ultimately shift to fully online.
“Attitude is everything,” Galvin says. “If students approach the new school year with that perspective — they get to interact with other kids some days, but they also get to sleep in a little and attend school from home on others, for example — they’ve already taken a huge step toward getting the most value out of the year.”
You will almost certainly feel frustrated at times, such as when you forget the topic of your last in-person discussion in history class or when your internet drops in the middle of an online lecture in precalculus. Ensure you have reliable supports in place before the new school year begins, whether that means collecting emails and phone numbers from classmates or securing technology troubleshooting guides.
And remember: Hybrid schooling might seem daunting, but it is not insurmountable.
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