Virtual learning is great preparation for college, since universities have been moving toward this trend for years now. But, you aren’t 20 years old living in a dorm or an apartment yet. You’re a teenager, stuck in your room trying to make sense of world history, Oliver Twist and geometry. Here are several tips to help you establish a solid foundation for online learning as you head “back-to-school.”
Tips for daily lessons:
Establish a study space.
Create a space where you can get your work done and are able to focus. Limit the number of distractions you will have throughout the day. Have all your supplies ready and available. Take some time before school starts to organize your space, so you’re ready to learn.
Separate “class time” and “homework time.”
Have one area for your daily lessons and teacher check-ins. Then once your school day is over, switch to a new location to catch up on any unfinished work. Perhaps your bed, the kitchen table, your parent’s at-home office, the couch or outside (while the weather is nice) is a fitting place to work on homework.
Dress like you would if you were going to school. You can’t have pajama day every day, and “business on top, loungewear on the bottom” isn’t necessary either. Do your hair, makeup and take care of yourself. If you take the time to get ready for the day, then you’ll be able to concentrate better, making your day more productive and effective.
Only work on each subject for a certain amount of time and then move on to the next. If you really feel like you need to finish everything assigned in one subject before you can move on, then take a break when the timer goes off.
If you typically have a five minute passing period, then take that five minute break. Grab a snack, do a set of pushups or situps. Go outside, take a walk around the neighborhood. Read a book. The important thing is to get away from the screen for a little while. Your eyes, brain and body need it.
You have all week to accomplish all your assignments. But, that means you only have 5 days to complete your tasks. It’s all in how you look at it. Therefore, you have to set a schedule for your school work. You need to keep track of your “to do” lists and continue to make progress. You don’t need to finish everything on Monday, but you can’t wait until Friday to start.
Communicate with your teachers.
Most teachers chose to teach because they love connecting with and encouraging their students. They aren’t in it for the money! So wrap up your day by sending a note to at least one of your teachers. Your note can be a simple “Hello,” or a message of gratitude for how they led a check-in or explained something in a video lesson. Perhaps you have a question, or you need more information on a particular topic. Use this outlet as an opportunity to express how you feel about your school work.
Until you can meet with your teacher in person, these notes are how you’re going to build a relationship with them. They are how your teacher is going to understand your personality, strengths and interests. Your teacher will most likely begin to look forward to these notes, as will you, because you’re gaining a little extra insight and support while learning from home.
Tips for virtual check-in
Set up your desk or work space so your background isn’t distracting. Don’t have a lot of objects or people in the background. Make sure you’re the main focus and that your lighting isn’t awful. As fun as they may be, virtual meeting backgrounds aren’t appropriate in a classroom setting. Save the dancing avocado for conversations with your friends.
Turn your camera off if you’re moving around, leave to go to the bathroom or need to grab something.
Don’t look at yourself.
Most video conferencing software has a way to stop you from seeing yourself. This will help you focus on your teacher and the lesson rather than being drawn into how you look. However, be aware that you are still on camera. Know what gestures you’re making, if you’re fidgeting or where your eyes are looking.
Be on time.
If you were attending class, you’d be counted tardy if you were late. Don’t be late for virtual class. It’s rude and shows a lack of organization and self-respect.
Don’t multitask. Don’t be working on homework from another class, checking social media, texting a friend or playing a game. Show respect to your teacher as well as your fellow classmates.
There are a lot of standard socialization skills that are being lost or displaced due to virtual learning and social distancing. Just because the classroom setting has changed, doesn’t mean your approach needs to. Continue to be respectful and courteous to your teachers and fellow students. You have a lot to gain from this experience. Don’t hide behind the statistics of declined learning or let the change of circumstances hinder your efforts. Instead, use this time to make a positive impact on how you view and work with others. Overcome your current situation by seeing it as an opportunity to grow and move forward. By doing so, you will gain skills that no classroom setting can teach.