The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way students and teachers alike must navigate the world of education. Distance learning, while providing a safer environment in many communities, also has presented challenges for students, especially those experiencing homelessness. We at SchoolHouse Connection asked our Youth Leadership Scholars to reflect on their distance learning experiences and provide us with any tips and tricks that may help other students. Here are their thoughts.
Find new settings to help encode memories.
“As you may or may not know, changing scenery and environment helps to create more unique contexts through which you can learn and remember things. Now, when all of my learning is essentially being presented on my laptop, I’ve had to create new environments for learning — a change of scenery. This has included different areas of my house being dedicated to working on a specific class, sitting outside near a building with wifi hotspots, attempting to create as many physical notes as possible, and even changing genres of background music.” – Aseret, SHC Scholar
Get printed notes/lecture slides.
“Getting printed notes or lecture slides when campus or libraries are shut down has been essential to my remote learning experience, because it helps me interact with material better. With more closures, this has meant more planning ahead, and relying on local classmates or family who have printers, in order to avoid expensive printing prices, since my course lecture slides often constitute the course reading material. For example, I printed over 400 pages front and back for my entire summer neuroscience course back in May when I visited my grandfather in a nearby city, even though the course had not even started.” – Aseret, SHC Scholar
Set up a study group and review schedule.
“With all classes now online, I have utilized canvas registries for classes to organize group chats related to the class. With this tool, we have been able to Facetime regularly before homework due dates and exams in order to review, as well as organize grievances when things go wrong in a course. This has been such a saving grace from the lonely ocean that is online instruction.” – Aseret, SHC Scholar
Keep a daily schedule.
“Even though many of my classes no longer required a specific meeting time, I found it extremely helpful to keep some sort of daily schedule with all of my classes. Otherwise I would very quickly find myself behind and needing to cram hours of lectures into a day or two. This also meant regularly making meals, both to save money and keep a schedule, and well as have set break times when I can be on my phone.” – Aseret, SHC Scholar
“It was extremely helpful to set a specific time to do work for certain classes. At the start of the quarter, I was very unorganized, and once I put my time specifically into one class then worked on the next things started to get better.” – Danny, SHC Scholar
Find a quiet space to work.
“A lot of the time there is some background noise or chatter that made it really hard for me to focus, so being able to find a place in the house where it was quiet was very beneficial to me. If you cannot find somewhere quiet, maybe use some earplugs to cancel out the noise.” – Danny, SHC Scholar
Utilize office hours and tutoring centers.
“Although with virtual school, it is more of a challenge to meet with your professor or tutor, it is still doable. I had to reach out to my professor several times to get questions answered. This also brought a pretty good sense of organization to my work.” – Danny, SHC Scholar
Dress as though you’re going to in-person classes.
“It’s very easy to lose attention during zoom meetings, especially if you’re in pajamas. By dressing as if you’re going out, you tell yourself that you’re preparing for the day and everything that accompanies a normal day in the outside world.” – Hannah, SHC Scholar
Work a 9-5 schedule if possible.
“Obviously, there are exceptions for this rule, especially for those who typically work at night. However, keeping as normal of a schedule as possible is very helpful. It can keep a sense of normalcy and you can have your weekends freed up for recreational activities without the looming threat of deadlines and tests.” – Hannah, SHC Scholar
Find ways to care.
“I struggle a lot with staying motivated and actually caring while at home. Do whatever you need to do to hold yourself accountable and stay on task. The best way to do this is by knowing how you work, and scheduling your studies accordingly. For example, if you don’t think you have the energy to do weekly math homework by yourself, perhaps text a friend, and both of you can hold each other accountable and ensure you both complete it.” – Christian, SHC Scholar
Distance learning presents challenges for all students, but especially for students who may struggle with safe and secure housing and basic needs. If you find yourself struggling with distance learning, we encourage you to reach out to your teacher, guidance counselor, McKinney-Vento liaison, or other trusted school staff member for help. You do not have to navigate distance learning alone, and you deserve to have the resources and support you need to be successful as you navigate this new learning environment.