The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly affected almost every single person in the world. People have become afraid of so-much as sitting on a public bench and using public transportation to get through their day. The impacts of the virus are particularly affecting college and high school students: “school has become so much harder to do online, and even on days where I’m in school it still feels empty and dispiriting,” says Maile Fukushima, a sophomore at Rowland Hall High School. Along with this, college students living in dorms are in a constant panic due to their continuous proximity to others. Tufts University student Ria Agarwal tells me that “one thing I particularly dislike about being a college student during COVID-19 is that we are being tested multiple times a week for the virus, and while it isn’t terrible, it is certainly uncomfortable.” These are ways the pandemic has impacted the schooling experience, but it has arguably affected the process of learning much more. Many people overlook how teenagers are being affected by this virus, specifically how it affects schooling. Most, if not all, schools have implemented changes to the daily routines of students. Lots of schools have yet to open, some are doing a full distance-learning program, and many are doing a hybrid of in-person and distance learning. Learning online (or even in-person with a mask) can make it much harder for students to fully comprehend course material. However, there are some techniques that can make learning during COVID-19 a little less difficult.
Having asked my friends and peers, a lot of them have brought up the fact that they have been getting significantly less schoolwork and extracurricular work done since the pandemic has started. Since most people have switched to hybrid learning, there’s a struggle with school being a lot less consistent. Something that has kept consistency in my life is creating to-do lists. I have come across many students who have told me that they like having to-do lists because it gives them a sense of productivity when they cross something off the list. It’s a great feeling to be able to check something off when you have been putting it off for days or weeks. Along with this, it doesn’t matter if you are learning in or out of school because it is just as helpful for both. Personally, I like to create one every day on a piece of paper so that I get the physical satisfaction of crossing something off with a pen. I like to keep it on my desk so that throughout the day I can constantly check in with myself on where I’m at. In fact, Maile Fukushima, a Rowland Hall sophomore, has said lists “show me what I have to do and when I have to do it, which helps me accomplish more things long-term.”
With hybrid learning, how we learn has changed immensely from the fact that we are on screen for two weeks out of every month. The second challenge I have come across is that since I’m not seeing my friends as much anymore, I don’t really have anyone to motivate me and help me get work done on the weeks when I’m not physically in school. On weeks where I don’t have school, a strategy that has helped me immensely is setting concrete times where I have to physically attend a meeting with a teacher or work with my friends. During quarantine I met two of my friends at 8pm every day to do work for debate, and it made me immensely more productive. Along with this, having to actually log into Zoom and meet with other people, whether it be classmates or teachers, forces me to get out of bed and complete a task. Something I have also been doing is attending online debate lectures that begin at a specific time so that, again, I am basically required to attend. Julia Summerfield, Rowland Hall sophomore, has expressed that “being able to connect with peers through productive conversations has made distancing easier because I am actually still having contact with others,” which is just another perk to being productive with friends!
Another problem I’ve faced is getting work done during school. When you are at home during your free periods, it is so easy to stay in your bed and let the hour pass by. Although it may seem obvious, making weekly goals can help fight the urge to procrastinate. This is a good way to stay productive because having a weekly goal gives you a way to break up your work in chunks so that it can be accomplished throughout the week. Another student, Olivia Stinnett, explained that she has “loved making weekly goals because it helps against procrastination and makes it easier to stay on top of the harder assignments.” As for myself, I have been setting reading goals for a new book I’m reading, and they have been working great! Not only does it make a big task seem less challenging, it also gives you something to do on days where you are bored or have been less than productive.
The last thing many people have told me is that they tend to try and study but not get anything done because they have a lot of distractions at home. If you struggle with this, I would highly recommend you use the 80/20 rule. This technique states that 20% of the things you do result in 80% of your results. This is saying that people should prioritize what is giving them better results rather than spending time everywhere. While the latter may make you feel more productive, it can really be the opposite outcome. Examples of the 80/20 rule arise everywhere: 20% of employees are responsible for 80% of the results, 80% of pollution originates from 20% of all factories, and 20% of drivers cause 80% of all traffic accidents. These examples show how smaller amounts of something can result in larger outcomes. A school-related example would be, if you know that taking more breaks while you study ultimately makes your grades better, but you try not to do that because it seems “unproductive,” the 80/20 method would say that you should. Forbes contributor Kevin Cruse states that “In my research into the productivity habits of high achievers, I interviewed hundreds of self-made millionaires, straight-A students and even Olympic athletes. For them, handling every task that gets thrown their way—or even every task that they would like to handle—is impossible.” The method shows that being completely focused at least 20% of the time is more effective than being only slightly focused or distracted for 100% of the time. Less is more!
Hopefully these strategies have given you some insight on how hybrid or full-distance learning can work better for you. While it may be difficult, the pandemic has to end eventually, but in the meantime, use these five techniques to obtain better results and make this treacherous time a little bit easier!