by Elsa Ying (’23)| March 29, 2021
On February 18th, after months of planning and coordination, the Saint Francis student body returned to campus for a full day of instruction. While students and faculty alike rejoiced at this semblance of normality, an unfortunate casualty in these new developments was the loss of morning collaborations. Collaboration, more commonly shortened to “collab,” is a set time in which students can meet with various faculty members for academic or extracurricular support. As Arhana Aatresh (’23) puts it, “Collaboration in previous years was a perfect blend of time with teachers and time with students.” At its core, collab was a time for the community.
In the virtual schedule, collaboration had been scheduled for thirty minutes each morning Monday through Thursday, from 8:00-8:30 on Brown days and 8:30-9:00 on Gold days. However, with the new hybrid schedule, these morning sessions were replaced with check-ins for the students on campus. During this time, students enter campus and scan their QR codes with the various iPads set up. While this block of time is vital for a smooth day of in-person classes, many students mourn the loss of the morning collaborations. Though the collab sessions were pretty short, the frequency made it much more convenient than the weekly virtual collab days. Students could easily wake up a few minutes earlier to pop into a Zoom meeting with their teachers for last-minute test preparation or quick questions.
Now, students must wait for Wednesday’s virtual collaboration to consult with faculty. The mid-week collabs are a bigger chunk of time, but the loss of daily collaboration times has often resulted in many students seeking help at the same time. Many teachers prefer to meet one-on-one during collaboration, and thus students often have to wait in the waiting rooms for painfully long periods of time before they’re able to get their turn. With more students seeking support on Wednesday and yet no change in the time allotted for a collab, teachers and students alike often become frenzied and rushed during this time, trying to cram in everything they need to do. This problem has been further exacerbated by the fact that the past two weeks have been scheduled as four-day weeks without virtual collaboration days. Thus, there has essentially been no collaboration in nearly a month.
Thankfully, it seems the school has noticed this issue and plans to take action. Recently, the Saint Francis administrators sent out a survey with possible collaboration schedules. The options listed include collaboration at the beginning of the day, between the first and second class period, or at the end of the day. Daily collaboration is a tricky thing to work out in the context of a hybrid schedule. No one can truly predict the exact number of students attending in-person or over Zoom, and asking students to sign up or getting teachers to keep meticulous records is burdensome. It’s hard to plan when and where collaboration should take place, especially when students constantly fluctuate between in-person school and online learning, and collaboration is open to all students in the cohort attending school that day.
With that said, there are many solutions. If collaboration is once again scheduled for the beginning of the day, students who want to attend are free to go to school earlier if in-person, or hop on Zoom if virtual, while students who opt-out can simply start class at the usual time. Similarly, collab at the end of the day would allow for students to get off campus earlier and thus provide a higher likelihood of maintaining social distancing policies. Collaboration in the middle of the day seems to have the most challenges, but the school could set up outdoor areas for students to spend time in while their peers meet with teachers. Overall, morning collaboration is a valuable time for many students, and its return, though not without its difficulties, will be welcomed by all.