Students weigh in on asynchronous and synchronous instruction

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To accommodate the return and distribution of textbooks and other materials, Townsend Harris High School conducted several asynchronous school days for all students in early November. Those days allowed students the opportunity to reflect on both asynchronous and synchronous remote learning models. 

Incoming junior Fatema Jaynab said, “I definitely prefer synchronous learning because it’s easier to talk and ask questions. It’s easier to make bonds with teachers and seeing them makes it feel like an actual class.” Junior Crystal Lin agreed that “it’s easier to ask for clarification from teachers.” Likewise, freshman Gabriel San Juan commented, “My experience with asynchronous classes has been a bit challenging with time management being much more important due to us controlling more of the pace we do work.”

On the other hand, senior Hans Li said, “I enjoyed being able to do the assignments at my leisure without having to enter Zoom calls. I also enjoyed watching the teachers’ recorded lesson at my own pace since I was able to pause the video and rewind it to help my understanding.” Similarly, sophomore Janelle Quindala said, “Although it’s harder for me to learn with asynchronous, I feel a lot less stressed compared to synchronous learning.” 

“I have mixed feelings about asynchronous learning only because I become paranoid that my students will be navigating new material on their own,” said Ms. Rasool. “However, I do like knowing that they are less overwhelmed and appreciate the flexibility that comes with asynchronous instruction.”

After experiencing both synchronous and asynchronous learning, Gabriel expressed each is a “kind of a double-edged sword if a person doesn’t manage their time well.”

“The whole schedule is frustrating, but it is what it is due to our situation,” said history teacher Blayne Gelbman. “I think within our school it [communication] improved as best as it could…I thought that Principal Condon and the other staff have done a really good job at making it work, keeping us safe, and keeping it open.” 

Though most students were notified about the schedule change a few days prior, some expressed that there was a lack of communication leading up to the first day of asynchronous instruction on Election Day. Crystal stated that she “was informed a few days before the days of asynchronous/synchronous schedule by the Student Union and Ms. York” through an email. However, Fatema, who did not receive an email, said that she was “informed pretty late, and heard from a friend [because] I was so confused. I believe the school should have sent the schedule at least one week before so that we could prepare for it.” English teacher Aseefa Rasool said, “There was slight miscommunication about how asynchronous learning was going to be successful. However for the most part, I think I was able to communicate the expectations to the classes that I teach with minimal difficulty.”