Wauwatosa West Students, Staff Share Thoughts on Concurrent Learning, Return to Full In-Person Instruction


Jackie Beck

Christopher Lazarski teaches his AP Seminar class on the last day of concurrent learning Feb. 26, 2021. He along with the rest of the Wauwatosa community is preparing to go back 5 days on March 2, 2021.

Daisy Lehman, Lillian Kiracofe, and Jackie Beck

Wauwatosa West freshman Phoebe Mann spent the first weeks of second semester Zooming into classes in the concurrent model. Now Mann and other students enrolled in Phase Into Learning will return to school 5 days per week starting March 2 after the Wauwatosa school board approved the return.

I think it’ll definitely be a big adjustment for everyone, since we haven’t had 5 days of school a week in almost a year, but hopefully it helps people that were struggling with online school. I’m hopeful that this was a smart decision made by the schools and doctors and the spread of corona won’t be bad, but I guess we’ll have to see,” said Mann.

Students and staff have had to adjust to several different instructional models this year. 

Wauwatosa West high school students began the school year in a hybrid asynchronous learning model grouped into cohorts to attend class in-person two days per week.  At the start of second semester, Wauwatosa West high school shifted to a concurrent  learning model.  In this model half the students attend in person 2 days a week and the other half attend class via zoom. Now starting March-2nd-2021, students are going back to school full time.

As concurrent learning draws to a close for the meantime, some students have found the learning style beneficial.

“I think so far it’s going well, I’ve definitely been more engaged in my classes on virtual day, then before. But it also leaves me less motivated to do my homework, since now, I’m always in school,” said junior Cooper Krause.

For other students, the concurrent model hasn’t been working out well for them.

“I’m not really liking it that much. I’m having trouble focusing when I’m zooming into classes, and I feel more tired at the end of a virtual day, then I do in an in-school day. I also really don’t like it when teachers have people at home do breakout rooms with the people in-school, because no one really talks in them,” said junior Karl Beck.

Concurrent learning has also come with some technical difficulties.

“It feels sluggish, needlessly boring and hard to keep up with. The zooms are very annoying, since some teachers struggle with it, and it can take anywhere between 10 seconds to 10 minutes to get in,” said Wauwatosa West senior Aiden Theilmen.

Some teachers have found concurrent learning relatively successful.

“We’ve had pretty good student engagement, most of our students are showing up, I was nervous that students wouldn’t be doing their work,” said Wauwatosa West Art teacher Selena Marris.

“I think being able to include everyone on a more consistent basis has been a positive thing I would say,” said West English teacher Michael Ferschinger.

However some teachers find it a strain on the student’s end. 

“Attendance seems to be better.  Student engagement, I haven’t noticed a big difference in student engagement.  I do think the required times on the zooms are difficult for students when there’s additional homework at the end of the day on top of what they had to sit in on the zooms for, and I find that frustrating sometimes,”  said German teacher Karin Awve.

Many teachers believe that concurrent learning is beneficial, but still not the same as being in a classroom 5 days a week.

“Concurrent learning is better than asynchronous, because I think students are more dialed into doing school when they’re doing it concurrently, but it’ll be very nice when we can have everybody back in-person,” said Computer Science and Math teacher Amy Featherston.

Students had mixed reactions to the decision of the school board requiring students to return to 5 day a week in person learning on March 2nd.

“I’m ready to go back as soon as possible at this point,” Theilman.

Other students have concerns about going back 5 days.

“It will be good to see my friends again, but I feel pretty unprepared to be in-school for a whole week, and it will be hard for me to adjust,” said Beck.

Students aren’t the only ones with worries about the decision to go back to school full-time.  Teachers are concerned about what this means for their students and themselves.

“From a planning standpoint it makes me a little nervous, and from a health and safety standpoint it makes me very nervous too.  I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it.  Frankly, it makes me a little bit nervous in a lot of aspects,” said English teacher Michael Ferschinger.

There are some people though, that aren’t happy about the school board’s decision about going back 5 days.

“I’m not happy about the five days a week thing and especially since the original date was April and then they moved it up a whole month. I also do love the smaller classes because I feel more comfortable asking questions,” said junior Mackenzie Frazier.

Students and teachers are divided between their thoughts on the current learning model, and the one that will take place starting March 2nd. Although in the end, everyone just wants to find a way to learn and teach safely this school year.

Sophomore Hari Venkata Subramaniyan said, “I think it will be a great experience seeing my friends who were in cohort B at school again after a long time, and I’m really excited to have everyone in class because I feel like the learning will be better overall.”