Updated: Jan 12, 2021
It happened. Your school decided to implement remote learning. You never did well or have never taken virtual classes before. This ain't nothing but a thing <--- that's 3.9 GPA talking right there! That was my final GPA earning my Master's from MIZZOU completely online. I'm here to help. Even better, I've recruited and enlisted the help of one badddddddddd teacher ("bad" meaning "pretty amazing") who is getting her virtual teach on. What I'm trying to say is you're in good hands here. Put your favorite sweats on, brush your teeth (for real tho), do something with you hair, let's boss up on your virtual classrooms.
We are talking about setting you up for virtual academic success right now. You may think that's a drag but it's a matter of life or death. Too drastic? Think about it....Every single decision you make in life either leads to a better life - or not. There are no meaningless decisions and no meaningless days. Everything you've done has led you right to where you are today. And what informs your decisions? The answer is knowledge and wisdom. And how do you gain knowledge and wisdom? By educating yourself. One thing most people don't realize is that it's not only what you learn that's important but how you learn. How quickly can you assimilate (look it up) and process information? If your answer is "not quick;y" you can train that skill. Use your mundane class topics to set the intention of training how quickly you can study and learn. Do I have your attention? Good! Let's Gooooooooooo!
So, how can I set myself up for success during virtual school? How can I become a savage at stack knowledge now that I know educating myself influences the choices I make during every day? I could unpack that in a few different ways but I want to focus on the foundation of it. If we build a house without a strong foundation it will come crumbling down when the big bad wolf huffs and puffs. So, we have to start there.
I want you to think of a plant, fruit, or vegetable. What's the most important aspect of growing amazing crops? Did you say "watering them?" Great answer, but not the most important. Did you think about the soil? What if you lay your seed, water it perfectly according to what it needs, have it perfectly situated with the appropriate amount of sunlight...but the soil isn't healthy? None of the previous steps will matter. We have to get the soil (aka environment) right first. Same goes for your designated work space. If you want to grow in knowledge we have to get your personal space right first. Your environment where you work IS THE SOIL ( dropping philosophical bombs on you right now). That's what this post is about...getting your environment right.
I've asked the esteemed and award-winning educator, Mrs. Laura E. Greeley of Masconomet Regional High School in Boxford, MA, to bestow her wisdom on us all. She has a Master's in History and a CAGS in Educational Leadership to go along with her 15 years in teaching social sciences at the high school level (Translation: She's a G). Here are 5 ideas that she says will take you to the promise land during your virtual semester.
1. Set your goals and make them visible in your workspace. It doesn't matter how big or small they are. They are there to keep you focused. They will drive every decision you make and every action you take.
"When I was writing long history papers in college I would write my thesis out and hang it above my desk so when I was getting lost in the research or writing, I could glance up at it to get centered and focused again." - Laura Greeley
2. Restructure your day by scheduling your to-do list. You went from having all the structure to none of it. It's up to you now. Use a planner or organization app to manage this effort. Write down all your assignments and when they're due. Break big projects down into parts. Note the dates when each part needs to be completed. Mark in your planner when you'll work on each part. Mark the dates you'll have tests, then make a note of when you'll study for them. Don't leave things until the last minute — you'll only end up working twice as hard to do half as well (ain't nobody got time for that)! Reduce your anxiety through preparation. Enter other activities on your calendar — team practices, connecting with friends, etc. This helps you see ahead of time when things might get too busy to get all your work done. Use your planner to schedule what time you'll do your schoolwork on days you have other activities. I'm not saying you can't squeeze a TikTok in. Just schedule it.
3. Clear EVERYTHING out that shouldn't be there - the clutter, the noise, the fake friends, and any other distraction. Clean organized spaces help focus. Clear all noise distractions. Throw your ear pods in or maybe a sound machine if needed. If you want to drop some of that cash money you made over the weekend then grab some noise canceling headphones. Or, listen to the music if that works for you.
"The key is to be honest with yourself about what works for you. Some of my students focus so much better and are much more productive with earbuds in. As much as I would love to block out background noise with music, whether upbeat and energetic pop music or calming classical, any music distracts me from my thoughts and I can find myself reading a whole page without registering anything on it." - Laura Greeley
4. Get Organized! Organize your stuff and organize your desk/workspace. Enough said! But, I'll say more. You have already de-cluttered. Now, it's time to create the perfect work station. I'm not here to reinvent the wheel on this one so I'm including a link from projectinspired.com. Check out 8 Ideas to Create the Perfect Homework Station.
5. Just Get It Done! Straight willpower on that work! Stay focused through each step and pay attention to the details. Understand your assignments and expectations of your teacher. Know your deadlines. Check your completed work. Stay organized. Go beast mode on time management by scheduling everything. Schedule breaks and get your ZzZzZ's. DON'T multitask. Multitasking is a lie. We are doing each task slower and less effectively when we try that. DON'T let yourself be bored either. Know your "why." Know your vision. Know where getting your work done right and on time will get you. It's time to just do it! I need you all to understand that your excuses are meaningless here. You may have been dealt a difficult situation but everyone has two choices- fold or push forward. Let's find a way to thrive. Be so bold to ask for help when you need it. You don't have to do this alone but you do have to do this.
BONUS: #1 Online Zoom Class right here....
What other ideas do you have? Share them below and share this post with someone who needs to hear what we are saying.