“Does this even matter?”
If you’ve asked yourself this question in last 4 months, you’re probably doing online learning. The long days, dry tired eyes, and little real interaction leave many of us wondering this very question. Online learning is hard for everyone, this isn’t new; parents, students and teachers alike are struggling and motivation is at an all time low.
The unfortunate reality is that this does matter. Last spring many were comforted by the idea that this will be short lived and these marks will not count. However, the longer this has stretched on, the more seriously we’ve had to adapt. Adapt to sitting all day in front of a screen (or lying in bed if you’re like most students – let’s not lie to each other).
Before we know it, it’ll be a year of this and I’d like to think we’ve figured out some good tips along the way. Don’t worry, we’re sharing tips a little more realistic than “learn a new language” or “write a book”!
⦁ Get outside. Cliché? Yes. This is obviously easier said than done as the days get colder and darker, but even a quick ten-minute walk will be a welcome refuge from the endless screens we stare at all day.
⦁ Walk away. When its break time, make a point to actually step away from your work space and your computer. Stretch your legs, get a snack, clear your head and unplug (even if it’s just 5 minutes).
⦁ Unmute. Talk to your classmates. Make a group chat, or – gasp! – unmute yourself and speak! If you’re feeling especially bold, turn your camera on; the majority of communication is non-verbal. It’s easy to not feel like part of a class when you’re actively blocking any kind of interaction with your camera and mic turned off. What fun is school if you can’t roll your eyes at your friend, or poke fun at your teacher?!
⦁ Hire a Tutor. Tutors can be a great way to really ensure that you know the content being taught. This is also a great chance to talk to someone in an unintimidated small setting, where you can work with others or with just the tutor themselves, while still learning.
Lastly, it’s important to go easy on yourself – it’s okay to complain and have days where you struggle more. This will pass, so allow yourself the odd pity party and give yourself the same grace you extend to others. As we approach the one-year mark, it’s important to think about the legacy and long-lasting effects of online learning and work from home.
Now is a good time to reflect on the past year, and take stock in how we’re doing with our new virtual work lives. Are there areas we need to adjust? Do we need to set clearer boundaries with work or school? Is there anything that isn’t working for us anymore? We will need to guard our time, as the lines between work and home life are blurring and for longer than we maybe initially prepared ourselves for.