Remember Why You Started, by Allyson Hahn and Vien Ho

With the rapid spread of COVID 19, our junior year of college went from collaborating with our friends, in-person, on a daily basis, filling up whiteboards in the Math Resource Center, and stopping by our professor’s office to gain clarity, to sitting at our desks and attending class from our respective homes. As students, we’ve been faced with many challenges over the past semester while acclimating to the remote learning environment. The learning curve was steep, but over time we developed strategies to become successful and overcome these obstacles.


本学期,我们也都在一个小型的独立学习课程中。在学期的上半年,在课堂会议期间,我们向定理和lemmas提出了证明;这有助于我们对材料的理解,因为我们向我们的同学解释并获得了我们教授的反馈和进一步解释。在课外,我们将在数学资源中心合作,以解决问题,并要求我们的教授进行指导。然而,当我们转向远程学习时,我们丢失了这些机会,这使得它更加困难地理解材料并解决实践问题。我们觉得在远程学习期间的第一个家庭作业是不可能的,我们永远无法完成它。在来回恐慌的文本之后,我们决定使用Skype讨论作业和内容。在未来几周内,我们的电话将持续几个小时,因为我们倒入材料并完成了问题。数学是令人难以置信的视觉,所以我们必须改变我们如何合作。由于我们看不到我们面前的彼此的工作,我们必须将我们的解决方案置于相机或通过文本发送它们。 We didn’t have the luxury of working side-by-side to point out theorems and errors in each other’s work. However, this “video collaborating” experience made us better mathematicians because it forced us to be clear and concise in our work and discussion. This experience taught us not to be afraid to reach out to our friends and peers for assistance and guidance even if it might expose our weaknesses. But we wouldn’t have been as successful without our professor’s support during the remote learning journey.

作为一个小型文理学院大三,上部-level mathematics courses are typically quite small, which can make remote learning difficult. With only 6-10 students in a class, we tend to foster a more informal environment when it comes to participation. This natural flow of learning and discourse, which we thrive on, was broken in remote learning. When a professor asks a question during remote learning, it is hard to jump in and answer. Not because we don’t have an idea of what the answer may be, but because when “in person”, the fear of being wrong was so diminished. In the remote setting, there is a new set of fears, that we would say something wrong or talk over someone. In addition, a student’s body language is telling, but without video, it is impossible for someone to pick up on those cues. This is what causes the “Does this part make sense?” question to have an awkward silence, which we’re sure a lot of professors can relate to. In-person, a head nod would usually suffice, but in this new setting, it was somehow uncomfortable for us to say “yes.”

Since remote classes started, our learning process has been hindered by the numerous distractions in our homes. It is hard to admit, but there were days where we did not feel motivated to work on homework or try to understand new concepts. We learned that we had to structure our days with allotted times for classes, homework, and breaks in order to create a healthy mindset and a productive environment. Even little things like putting on jeans every day, turning off news notifications, or listening to music lightened the mood and helped increase our focus. Not only did we gain skills from learning how to navigate our classes and collaborate with peers and faculty during quarantine, but we also learned how to help ourselves mentally, by reminding ourselves of why we started.

This journey through remote learning was unexpected and left students and faculty to face numerous challenges as we all worked through the remaining weeks of the semester. However, it brought us an experience we will never forget and taught us many lessons. It taught us to be more independent but unafraid to lean on each other. It taught us how to adapt to a new environment and to find ways to work things out. It taught us to not take anything for granted and appreciate the time we had before the remote learning period. More importantly, it taught us to remind ourselves (and always remember) why we started our journey during difficult times. Remote learning ultimately was not a bad thing as it brought many lessons, and time to reflect and be grateful for every day that we get to spend with the people that we love. We are thankful to be safe at home and able to remain connected with our family, professors, and friends, while others are fighting on the frontlines to save lives and restore the world.

Allyson Hahn and Vien Ho are Pure Mathematics majors whose continued passion for mathematics was shaped by their dedicated and encouraging professors at North Central College. They share a similar goal of pursuing a Ph.D. in Pure Mathematics and eventually teaching at an institution.


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