We’ve made it to the first progress report with our first fully dedicated distance learning school year. Has it been easy? Of course not! We worked on getting the dedicated space and establishing a routine which has helped. The boys have gotten to know their teachers a bit and are discovering the strengths and weaknesses of their lessons and different expectations for online learning.
From physical to distance learning
It’s not like before when the kids were in the classroom. After class, they could walk right up to the teacher and be seen and heard. Sometimes it would mean coming back during office hours or lunch, but it’s kinda hard to miss a student standing in front of you.
Now that the students are doing distance learning, the teachers have a lot more control over the classroom. Some that prefer to just lecture will mute all the students and ignore any and all comments or questions in the chat. With nothing to do, kids tune out into their own little world… or just fall asleep. Where’s the learning in that?
The good teachers find ways to keep students awake and alert by asking for responses, doing breakout rooms, online games and lots of visual aides. But not everyone is good with technology or is able to put together creative presentations for their online lessons.
I’m not saying it’s been an easy transition for anyone. No one had a choice, but the learning environment has changed. We all have to make adjustments. Number one is finding ways to keep your students engaged.
Tips for students
1. Communication is key
Though if the teacher doesn’t see your question in the chat or let you ask questions, write them down and email them immediately after class. Visit them during online office hours if you need to talk to them in person. Make a note which assignments need following up. If you have to, put an event with a reminder in your calendar to check back with your teacher on a specific date.
2. Double check your submissions
Even with online homework, things can go wrong. You might submit the wrong assignment, misunderstand the instructions, or simply forget to click submit. You can’t assume that teachers will find your submission or know what’s going on. It all goes back to number 1, communication…
Email your teacher and let them know you had trouble. Explain the situation as soon as you discover the problem. If you don’t, you could essentially get a zero for a really easy assignment and no way to make it up.
3. Tools that can help
I stumbled on some Verbal to Visual videos on YouTube by Doug Neill. For those who find it hard to stay focused, doodling can help. The visuals can help you remember the lesson and drawing it out reinforces it in your mind.
There’s also some really great worksheets we can get to help you study and doodle from Math Giraffe. Doodling brings together your creativity and the math you need to know.
4. Take a break
Online learning is especially challenging with back to back classes, sitting in a chair all day. Psychology Today says breaks have been known to help your brain and its ability to process information. Between classes, get up and stretch, walk around, and get some water. I try to take regular breathers from work myself.
This is not a bad thing. Adults need check-ins too. We call it accountability. Get someone to be your accountability partner… a sibling, a parent, or call a friend. Your partner can remind you about assignments or to just get up and get some movement in and maybe a snack or two!
The bigger picture
It’s hard to see the purpose for learning certain subjects if you don’t think you’ll ever use what you’ve learned. What we have to remember is that for every challenge face, we are building the one skill that will serve us well as adults, problem solving. Classes and homework are just practice to handle life. Trigger your curiosity and take the time to learn about yourself now. What interests you? Is there something you’re really good at? Create a mind map and set some goals to learn more about what you like. Let’s see where it takes you!