I’m Back!

Ask Erin returns, answering a question about how to be successful during remote learning.

Anonymous, Sandscript Author

Dear Frustrated Remote Student,

You are not alone.  It can be difficult to find help with school, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Online learning is not a good substitute for in-person learning but maybe some of my suggestions can help. 

First, try waking up early to prepare yourself for the day and eat a nutritious breakfast.  This will help keep you alert during those long lectures and you won’t feel tired during your first block class. 

A big problem with online learning is the lack of structure.  After going through years of in-person structured learning, going virtual can at first feel liberating.  However, with this newfound freedom comes more responsibility.  It can be tempting to take a nap, play video games, or spend endless hours on Instagram, but fight that urge!  Find ways to bring structure back into your life.  Have a set schedule and set alarms for the beginning and end of classes.  Use the passing period between classes to ready yourself for the next class instead of checking SnapChat or surfing the internet.  Structure is essential for learning and bringing it back in your daily routine can improve your outlook on remote learning.

To help you pay attention during a virtual class, I recommend finding a place to learn that will help you be productive.  I know a lot of people who work from their bed, but I find that really difficult and it makes me drowsy.  I prefer to work at a table in a room with natural light instead.  Working at a table instead of your bed helps your brain separate work from sleep.  Working from your bed can cause drowsiness, while working at a table forces you to sit up and focus.  Working in a room with natural light reduces eye strain from looking at a computer screen for eight hours.

Don’t get distracted by your phone.  I know it can be hard to put down the phone sometimes, but it is a motivation killer!  During class, put it away in a place where you can’t see it.  Out of sight, out of mind as the saying goes.  Eliminate all distractions if possible. If you have a pet, don’t let them in your workspace.  If you have siblings, work in another room.  Put on headphones to prevent distractions during your Google Meet so that you can hear your teacher and the class discussion.  And to ensure that you are focused, turn your camera on for the classes that you are struggling with the most.  I know this can be super awkward, but this will force you to pay attention and help the teacher see if you are understanding the lesson.

When we were quarantined, I found that asking questions in class became harder and caused a lot of anxiety.  If I didn’t quite understand something, I would write down my question and email my teacher after class. 

Remember not to work yourself too hard though, because burnout happens to the best of us and makes us stressed and anxious, which makes the situation worse.  Take time for breaks.  Go for a walk, exercise, or read a book.  Try not to use your phone or play video games during the school day.  Too much screen time can cause headaches, making it more difficult to complete your assignments and understand the lessons.

I recommend going through Canvas and listing all of your assignments in a planner with their due dates.  You should review the planner every day and assign priorities to each assignment.  This can help you to stay focused and on track.  Remember to take advantage of Tutoring Tuesday’s if you need help understanding a concept or studying for a test.

It is definitely a lot harder to obtain information from teachers when you are learning online but emailing and asking questions to your teachers is the best way to gain a better understanding of what is going on.  Take notes and go through your classes as if you were still at school.  Use your environment to your advantage and make a room of your home into a place where you can learn.  I know that a lot of this seems very minimal, but it can make a big difference in your motivation, focus, and work ethic.  I hope this helps and good luck with the next semester!