Return to in-person learning allows students to practice perseverance through social interactions
After more than a year of online learning, the majority of Gunn’s student population has fully returned to campus for in-person learning. However, what seems like a return back to “normal” also requires a social adjustment. Students are now returning to face-to-face interactions with no more breakout rooms or lunches at home. Although social interactions may seem intimidating at first, persevering will allow students to develop their resilience through practice, initiative and routine.
Even the most extroverted students could have found the first day of school daunting. Big social gatherings have been limited since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with just around 2000 students back on campus, every day can seem strange and unpredictable. On top of that, for half of the student body, this was their first time attending high school with full in-person classes.
However, these circumstances are an opportunity for teenagers to adapt. In-person schooling has forced students to pull out their rusty social skills. Casual conversations have become more awkward, and there are unquestionable difficulties in relearning eye contact and how to stand during peer interactions. Still, high school is made up of awkward interactions, and communication tends to improve the more students interact. With practice, the walk across campus will become less overwhelming. After getting used to the bell schedule and finalization of classes, school will become routine, relieving some of the anxiety that comes with the constant changes.
Another challenge for returning in-person is speaking up in class. There are no buttons to raise your hand, and no chat box to put your questions in a classroom. There is only the physical motion of lifting your arm above your head. Something that might seem simple is another action with a new type of hyperawareness. When students participate in the classroom, they learn to have courage and initiative as they volunteer their ideas. As different as it is, hearing their voices out loud is key to boosting student confidence.
Although students may have made new friends in breakout rooms, there is nothing like shoulder partner conversations and group projects in person. Being back in the classroom has brought back the opportunity to form even closer friendships with classmates. Whether it’s a pass in the hallway asking about a quiz that day or small talk before class has started, in-person learning has brought back random interactions with classmates, allowing high schoolers to expand out of their usual friend group.
Social interactions are the basis of human relationships. Social relationships are crucial to the growth and development of students’ identities. Although it takes time for students to get accustomed to in-person conversations and interactions, they ultimately allow students to become resilient and adapt to their new circumstances. These connections are all essential parts of the high school experience, and the skills students learn or relearn will help them in their future endeavors.