The Benefits and Drawbacks of NTI

Non-Traditional Instruction days have been implemented in FCPS since April 6.


Emma Daman

Many students use online platforms such as Google Classroom to access work their teachers assign at home.

Students and teachers are finding positives and negatives to the new style of teaching and learning. The most common benefit, according to students, is a more relaxed pace.

“I like doing these online days because I can work leisurely at my own speed,” freshman Alex Ochsenbein said.

Dunbar has kept the structured A and B-day schedule students and teachers are used to with the exception of Fridays being “office hour” days for teachers to enter grades, contact students and check attendance for the week.

“I find keeping to the A-day B-day schedule makes this whole process go a lot smoother because it maintains the organization we are so accustomed to in regular school,” sophomore Caroline Devine said.

An advantage many students have found about NTI days is that most teachers will post the current week’s work at the beginning of the week. This allows students to complete the assignments in the desired order whenever they have time.

However, other students said that sometimes teachers do not post their assignments for the week at the same time or they will post something without much notice before the due date.

“I have to wait for teachers to post work online making it difficult to spread my workload out,” sophomore Erik White said.

A benefit, according to many students, is that they can choose what assignments they want to complete based on what they have time for or feel like doing at the moment.

“I think online school is good because if you get tired of doing one of your subjects you can pause and go work on something else or take a break without a teacher constantly right there making sure you’re working,” senior Emma Hilt said.

Along with this, students say that a benefit is that they can complete their schoolwork and still have time to enjoy other parts of their lives.

I like doing these online days because I can work leisurely at my own speed.

“With online school, I like that it takes a lot less time than a typical school day while still keeping me in the loop with my classes so I don’t fall behind,” Devine said.

Zoom and Google Meet are group video chat platforms that are being used to connect people throughout the world during this pandemic. These platforms are also being used in the school systems and give teachers a way to virtually contact their students in all their classes to continue online learning.

“I also have Zoom meetings scheduled like office hours to answer questions students may have. Honestly, the Zoom meetings are my favorite part of NTI days because I get to see my students. I miss them,” math teacher Mrs. Lisa Montgomery said.

According to some teachers, one drawback to online learning is that students don’t always check-in with their teachers.

“When students don’t at least acknowledge teachers’ emails, those teachers have to look at several places to find out if students are participating in NTI classes,” Dunbar special education teacher Mrs. Karen Nichols said. “Any answered email provides much-needed time to teach and support students instead of searching for them.”

Not only this, but a lot of students are overwhelmed not just by schoolwork, but also by feelings of sadness or dread.

To acknowledge this, some English teachers said that they even adapted their lesson plans to include readings that chose stories that are more inspiring for students during this time.

“Did we do this perfectly? Absolutely not, but we tried really hard and worked together to make a completely brand new curriculum on the fly,” English teacher Mr. Daniel Janbakhsh said. “I think this has forced me to do more to checking in with my students and do it more thoughtfully.”

Another stress for students is exams. Although Dunbar has announced that there will not be final exams this semester, some students will still have to take AP or Dual Credit exams.

AP tests this year will all be taken online and the content students will be tested over has been reduced to mostly content covered before the break. This allows students in AP classes to not have to learn new content for the AP exams through NTI classes.

“I was very fortunate that with the changes to the exam, we have been mainly reviewing and practicing skills,” US History teacher Mrs. Paula Aseltyne said.

Implementing the NTI system allows teachers and students to continue teaching and learning, even if they are not in the school building for the remainder of the year.