Tips for managing online school

Author: August Clarke

Alberta is coming out of lockdown and students are now back in the classroom, though it’s not clear if schools will go online again if cases increase. Moving back and forth from in-person to online classes is probably stressful, especially if you don’t enjoy online learning. Or perhaps you’ve been taking classes remotely since school started in the fall.

I’ve been doing online school all year at university, so whether you are currently in online school, a hybrid model or are concerned about going back into remote learning, I’m here to tell you that online learning is not as bad as you think. And I have some pretty good tips that will help you get through it.

Tip #1: Keep an agenda

An agenda might be the single most useful thing I’ve owned since I started online school – I’m serious. One thing that’s really tough about online school is that, when you’re at home all the time, time just passes differently. And, odds are, you don’t have a teacher reminding you every day when your next assignment is due. If you make a habit of noting all of your important due dates and all of the things you need to get done in a given day in an agenda, online school gets a whole lot easier. Organization is key: trust me.

Tip #2: Mimic your school routine

With online school comes a lot of flexibility, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. My advice for you is to try and mimic your regular routine as much as possible. That means going to bed at the same time as usual and waking up at the same time – regardless of whether you have to. If you usually have math from 12:30 to 2:00, try to work on it during that same time period, even if your classes are asynchronous. It’s also important to carve out times for breaks when you would have them, like lunch. Maintaining a similar routine tends to help me focus when I’m working at home!

Tip #3: Create Zoom study groups

If you are used to working with your peers a lot, try to mimic that by using a platform like Zoom. Even if you can’t be together in person, sometimes working through a problem over call rather than text helps a lot.

Tip #4: Set boundaries for “study” spaces and “leisure” spaces

If possible, it’s a good idea to set aside a space where you can work on school and a separate place for down-time. That way, when you’re in your study space you can train your brain to recognize that it is time to focus. One challenge with working from home, however, is that this isn’t always possible. If you are in a busy household and don’t have a private space to work, I recommend trying to work with your family to set aside a time for quiet hours so that you have a set period of time where you know you’ll be able to focus.

Tip #5: Reach out to your teachers sooner rather than later

If you have a question or are struggling with a concept, I highly recommend shooting your teacher an email with your question or to set up a tutorial time (if they do that) so that you can work out your problem. The thing with online school is that communication tends to take a little bit longer than if you were directly in front of each other, so it’s always a good idea to reach out to your teachers as soon as possible.

I hope that these tips are useful to you! While online school can be intimidating, I promise it’s not actually as bad as seems. It’s impossible for things to feel completely normal when you’re not physically in the classroom, but these tips are good starting point to lighten the load and help things feel a little bit more normal.