From the temptation of Netflix to the awkward lulls of video conferencing — attending school from your home comes with a lot of challenges.
The Lily talked to two experts who are uniquely equipped to help answer some of your questions about this unusual time. Here are five tips to consider this summer as you plan for the possibility of another semester online in the fall.
Jump ahead to the noted time stamp if you want to go straight to one of these tips.
Nicole Beurkens, a Michigan-based psychologist who works with young adults, says that we’re going to feel unsuccessful if we expect to get schoolwork done perfectly during an unprecedented pandemic.
“Having an expectation that you’re going to have it all figured out, not have any stress about it, be perfect at all of this — that’s an unreasonable expectation,” she says.
Brittany Sinitch agrees. She’s an educator and the founder of the Unbreakable Organization. She survived the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where she taught drama and English. Sinitch was only 22 years old at the time. She also went to high school there.
“During a time like this, I don’t think students should put pressure on themselves to make the best grade,” Sinitch said.
Sinitch urges students to remember that no one has had to deal with this before, including administrators and teachers.
“What is actually really so special about this time away, even though we can’t see our students physically — we are going through something together,” she says.
“I get distracted pretty easily,” says Pratika Katiyar, a high school junior in Alexandria, Va. “I’m like, ‘I kind of want to browse Instagram right now,’ but instead I have to do homework or attend an online class.”
Katiyar says she’s having to adjust to learning material by herself rather than in a lecture setting.
Many students we talked to are aware when they’re indulging in distractions, but wanted advice on how to know whether it’s a problem or not.
Beurkens says there are two benchmarks to look at. The first is if you’re getting all your work done on time.
“If [you are] — then okay, maybe it’s not a problem.”
Secondly, she says to ask yourself: “is what I'm doing working for me in terms of my stress, anxiety, overwhelm level?”
“If the answer to both of those things is yes, then there's really no need to change how you're managing your time. What you're doing is clearly working for you.”
With the transition to online schooling, Katiyar says finding one-on-one time with teachers is difficult. “You go from seeing your friends and your teachers five times a week to only seeing them virtually for 45 minutes, two times a week.”
Both experts say it’s important to talk to your teachers, especially if you’re having a difficult time.
“If you can’t be able to help yourself and advocate for yourself and come to us as teachers, we really can't help you,” says Sinitch. “I do think that takes a lot of courage for a student to do that. And I know it's not always easy.”
Beurkens says email is a good way to communicate with teachers. “Email allows us to compose ... but then pause, edit it, maybe have a parent or somebody read through it.”
Life is full of “times of less stress and times of greater stress,” says Beurkens. She says right now is an opportunity “to learn some new strategies and some new ways of coping.”