Middle schoolers face unique challenges in online learning

As the semester begins, middle school students continue to face the challenge of connecting with their teachers through the screen. 

Many seventh and eighth graders at WHHS think that teachers do make an effort to create an engaging class for remote learning. 

They create fun and interactive course material, Caden Elrod, ‘25, said. 

Many believe that the time taken towards the class is enough, despite the online block schedule. Notwithstanding the glowing reviews of their classes, some middle schoolers have begun to feel that they are lacking enthusiasm and have less interest in participating. Participation and enthusiasm are related to people’s motivation to learn. So if the class is engaging, why is there a lack of motivation?

According to the American Psychology Association, “At a time when children’s cognitive abilities are increasing, middle school offers them fewer opportunities for decision-making and lower levels of cognitive involvement, but a more complex social environment. Studies find the decreased motivation and self-assuredness contribute to poor academic performance; poor grades trigger more self-doubt and a downward spiral can begin.” 

Leaving elementary school, there’s a pressure to do well and maintain a respectable grade now that there’s a measure of performance. While this happens, students are forced into a different social environment with people they don’t know. There’s no longer a close community like elementary school, possibly making kids feel abandoned.

 “I wish we went back to in-person learning, cause I feel very lonely and secluded from the Walnut community,”  Rahifa Maricar, ‘26, said. 

They are entering an unknown territory where everyone seems to know each other, leaving students to wonder where they fit in. This could be the reason for a lack of motivation and enthusiasm. It’s also hard for many to stay on track and focus when they are stuck sitting down for a long period of time listening to a lecture.  

Zoe Schnadower, ‘25, has found it hard to concentrate in online classes. “I am generally a pretty good student and very enthusiastic about school but all the days blend together now and there is nothing good about school anymore – it’s just a tedious task that I have to drag myself through.” 

Online school is a struggle and there is no reason to go through it alone. Some students reported going to  help nights when they need help, others said virtual help sessions made them anxious. Luke Jump, ‘26, said  “I can never think of the right questions to ask.”

“I think it’s really scary to be a kid and to try to talk to your teachers, I think that’s really scary.” English teacher Samantha Stephenson said, “I think sometimes kids don’t know what to say, they don’t even know what’s going on with them because everything’s so hard right now… They’re just struggling and they don’t even know how to describe it. My biggest struggle is just  trying to communicate with them and just hoping they’re okay but you never really know. And I hate that feeling.”