OPINION: NTI 3.0 still needs some work


Kaelin Gaydos

JCPS switches to NTI 3.0 with the climb of covid cases.

Kaelin Gaydos, Staffer

JCPS has once again opted for a second week of NTI, due to the high COVID case load and staff shortages. The NTI we’re experiencing today is arguably more smooth, structured and overall better than the NTI of yesterday; however, there are still things that need to be worked out to ensure the best possible experience for students, teachers and parents.

I’m sure a fair amount of other students would agree when I say I get more homework during NTI than during in-person instruction. Many teachers tend to spend our in-class time for lectures or notes and then give multiple assignments for students to complete before the next class. Although we may have more time in between classes (15 minutes to be exact, not counting that much needed stretch or restroom break) to do homework during NTI, it can be hard to sit down and actually do the work. Not to mention, the work I tend to get feels more like busywork or doesn’t make me feel accomplished in my learning career. There are a few exceptions, but the majority of the time it’s a load of blank work dumped on you and the blurred lines between home and work are further amplified. There is no disconnect all day, every day during NTI. 

Your bedroom, living room and other home areas are usually places to relax and unwind. Trying to concentrate at home is hard, especially when you’re feeling unmotivated. I understand that there are ways to circumnavigate this and that it’s short-term, but that doesn’t minimize the situation’s impact. We need to fix this problem by reducing the amount of unnecessary assignments teachers assign over NTI. It’s important that we still learn and complete assignments, but it would be much easier if the workload was not unnecessary, redundant or seemingly meaningless. I urge teachers to please keep this in mind when planning their NTI curriculum. 

Last year, during NTI 2.0, Wednesdays were “Crimson Hour Days” for Manual students. Students could meet with teachers during office hours or contact their teachers to receive additional help. Crimson Hour Days were flexible and allowed students more time to do homework at their own pace. There was also more free time to relax and prepare for the second half of the week. Although it may be difficult to work Crimson Hour Days into the schedule now, I think it would have a positive effect on students and teachers if we were to return to NTI at any other point this semester. 

It is also notable to acknowledge that some students also have to watch over their younger siblings or deal with other extraneous situations at home. Not everyone has good wifi, a stable working space or efficient technology. Having a reduced homework/workload and the addition of Crimson Hour Days could help accommodate these and other students in a very much beneficial manner, providing relief and less stress. The home environment is vastly different from the school environment, which offers different opportunities or alleviates certain stresses some students have to face at home. 

One major disadvantage to NTI is the lack of social interaction between students. Last year, teachers often organized breakout rooms during class so that students could work together. Unfortunately, this group work didn’t always work very well among freshmen because we barely knew each other; it felt very awkward and everyone was hesitant to talk, staring at a screen of colored circles and anxious voices. This year, however, the entire school has spent at least one entire semester together. Names can be matched to faces can be matched to voices and personalities. Social interaction is more organic and smooth since we’ve gotten to know one another in-person. Yet few, if any, of my teachers have utilized breakout rooms and there are few chances to interact during the synchronous learning time.

My call to action would be for the return of breakout rooms, as students would be more likely to interact with one another and it would boost social interaction in some manner. Encouraging open class discussions during synchronous learning times and having breakout rooms or that student to student interaction in some form is critical to maintaining a good sense of mental health. 

In the end, NTI is not ideal, but we have to make it work. There are some steps that should be taken in order to maximize the learning experience and consider different aspects of the situation.