We spend too much time on Teams

Benjy Chait

Whether you love it or you hate it, virtual school is here to stay. But even after months of this new learning format, there’s still one thing teachers have yet to get down: class timing.

Teams classes go for way too long, and there’s no way around it. Back during normal in-person school days, our 80 minute classes were broken up with discussion, worktime, and bathroom breaks that were intentionally too long. Teachers have failed to take this into consideration when planning Teams classes, which often last the full duration of 80 minutes without any breaks or discussions. How does one go about taking a bathroom break during a Teams class without interrupting the call and broadcasting it to the world? And risk being called on while using the bathroom? No way. 

Teachers often assign tasks like exit tickets and discussions (both of which previously occurred during class) to be completed outside of class, leaving room for an extra 30 minutes or so of straight lecture. 

It is so mind-numbing to be on Teams classes for six hours a day. I honestly cannot comprehend how time can move so slowly, and yet simultaneously seem like you blink and your math teacher explained the entirety of imaginary numbers and now expects you to do math in another dimension.

You might ask, “But what about breakout rooms?” Good question. Breakout rooms are the distance learning equivalent to having a substitute teacher in a foreign language class who doesn’t speak the language; equally as productive, equally as awkward. While I appreciate a good waste of time, we are often expected to complete collaborative work in said breakout rooms, making for the most uncomfortable and least effective segment of the class that either lasts for dramatically too much time or approximately 30 seconds. The worst part is when you’re summoned back and have to pretend like you spent your time engaging in rich debate with your fellow peers. 

In addition to breakout rooms, classes simply last way too long for teachers to expect you to then spend the rest of your day on the computer doing homework. By the time it’s 4:00, I’m so mentally exhausted by sitting and staring at a computer for six hours that I simply have to sit on the couch and stare at a smaller handheld computer for an equally long measure of time.

Now, there is some reassigning of blame to be done. Teachers were thrusted into distance learning just as tumultuously as we were. Teaching isn’t an easy job, and requires support from the school and district.

Class timing is an important problem that needs to be solved, but it’s not too late. Teams classes can last an unbearably long time, counterintuitively making it incredibly difficult to give each subject the amount of attention required to properly absorb the information being thrown at you. Instead, teachers should break up their classes with more intermissions to get water, use the bathroom, and refocus. They should also include more time at the end of class for asynchronous work, and have assignments like exit tickets and discussions take place during class so that students can get the support they need. This way, students can cross “length of class meetings” off of their list of problems and get back to “quasi-apocalyptic nightmare-reality from hell.”