We asked our student bloggers to write about their distance learning experience. This week, Catie D. '26 writes about her challenges, the benefits, and what's she's learning from them both.

At BASIS Independent McLean, we are distance learning during this time of quarantine. Through Microsoft Teams, we continue to have our classes at home. Every teacher has their own “team” for posting classwork, assignments, and videos of themselves teaching classes. We have scheduled Zoom meetings with our classes and teachers so that we can ask questions and learn information.

Some teachers post daily polls. The polls are a surprise question, sometimes related to academics, but often about fun facts such as, “On average how many pounds of candy does an American eat in one year?” This adds an additional dose of fun to distance learning! Every morning, each teacher posts an outline of the work for the day, something we call a CJ entry. The Communications Journal, CJ for short, is a daily planner that helps keep us on track with all of our assignments. Finally, in Teams there is also a chat function. Through it, kids can stay connected by messaging with other kids in their grade.

Cate DLI really enjoy using Teams for online school, but there are some things that I cannot do on Teams or through any other distance learning platform. I wish I could actually see my friends more. While we have Zoom calls, it is not the same as seeing them in the flesh. Exercise is another thing that I wish I could do more. One way I get exercise is just by walking around school, but now I am tied to a desk. Staying organized for school at home is a challenge too. This is the one challenge that I’ve tackled and won by making a workspace for myself. I’ve found that it’s good to stay in one location instead of moving my workspace. Having a routine makes it is much easier to focus on school work and assignments.

While distance learning has its challenges, there are some new opportunities that arise when I stay at home all the time. My Girl Scout troop meets twice as often now, and we take turns leading the Zoom meetings. In addition, I have attended Girl Scout webinars, and they are very fun. My family and I have a lot more family dinners with more conversation and laughs than ever before! We also play more games and cook together, and I even help my younger sister with her school projects. Being at home is a great time to get to know your family better, find ways to make them happy, and plan for what’s coming up, like a family campout!

Having to stay at home has also given me time to reflect on all of the changes we’re experiencing. I’ve started keeping a journal, and I have found that it is very helpful to write down what I feel. There are so many changes that have come about during this time. We don’t know where these changes are taking us, but we know we’re on a journey that will change our world, our communities, our schools, and our families.