Staff Editorial: Here’s what works on asynchronous Fridays

Editorial Board

With four asynchronous Fridays under our belt, students have had varying experiences with our day away from Zoom. As such, The Nexus decided to examine what we’ve appreciated about these days and what we would like to continue to see moving forward.

First and foremost, we have valued the extra flexibility that results from a Zoom-free day. Without having to attend live meetings, we have been able to do schoolwork from wherever we would like, over a longer period of time. Autonomy with how we manage our time is especially important as we approach college, where less structured courses will force us to rely on the time-management skills we built in high school. 

We especially appreciate teachers who provide flexible assignment turn-in windows. Using a separate Google form or survey to track the day’s attendance, as opposed to relying on class-work for that purpose, still ensures that teachers can turn in attendance to the office by the 5:55 p.m. deadline on Friday, while allowing students more time to spread out our work. Some teachers have also made assignments flexible on the front-end, releasing them earlier in the week for students who would prefer to finish them before Friday. This innovation in varying how they structure assignments and attendance shows that teachers recognize that learning doesn’t need to happen during any specific block of time and that students have the capability of managing their time well. 

Some teachers have also gotten creative with how they “lecture” on asynchronous days, releasing slide shows and pre-filmed video lessons that can be consumed at a student’s preferred pace. This way of learning is useful for many students who may have trouble keeping up with live lectures during class and benefit from the ability to pause and take notes. 

Many of us use the extra time on Fridays to catch up on long-term projects or get a head start on work for the following week. This is made easier by teachers who designate some Fridays as individual workdays.

Another positive outcome of asynchronous Fridays has been being able to connect with teachers in smaller group settings. Some teachers have used Fridays for extra office hours, personal mentoring, or opportunities for small groups of students to meet with them to discuss projects. The nature of virtual school is that some students fall between the cracks and may not feel comfortable speaking or keeping their camera on during Zooms with the full class. Occasional meetings with teachers have helped these students be noticed to achieve their academic goals.

Overall, asynchronous Fridays—when used properly—are a substantial tool for the betterment of student mental health. Over the past year, we have all spent an inordinate amount of time staring at our screens, sitting in Zoom meetings. A day away from live meetings breaks us from our routine, allowing us to get some fresh air or take a midday nap. During this year of stress and isolation, asynchronous Fridays serve as a reminder to relax and step away from the computer. Aside from the physical health risks of being at the computer all day, like eye strain, neck strain, headaches, and back pain, being on a screen for hours at a time elevates the already present mental health crisis of isolation and depression that many students are facing during online school. Even one day away from our typical schedule gives us the opportunity to take a much-needed break from the monotonous string of Zoom meetings that make up the other four days of the week.