For many of us, this March marks almost a full year of online learning. While many schools have taken advantage of hybrid models, virtual instruction has largely remained an important and often challenging component of students’ academic lives. By now, it’s likely students have formed new habits, attitudes, and approaches to learning, but how can we ensure these online learning mindsets continue to optimize, rather than hinder, student growth?
As online learning fatigue settles in, students may struggle to maintain previous levels of academic progress or engage fully in classes and academic activities. The structure of online learning itself presents a hurdle for many students as at-home environments typically allow energy and focus to be more easily diverted. Digital distractions, such as texting or TikTok, Snapchat or video games, can quickly redirect student attention and create larger habits of disengagement, leading to a frustrated and often underperforming student. Beyond the student, some educators’ lack of dynamic instruction methods can further limit student involvement and enthusiasm. Educators and students alike, however, cannot expect successful learning and instruction to look the same in any format. While the overall goals of optimizing academic outcomes and cultivating a balanced student lifestyle largely remain the same, we must find new ways to deliver and mindfully receive the same education through this nuanced online medium.
Shifting focus away from the confines and limitations of a digital environment and instead towards the unique challenges one is facing as an individual student within this unprecedented landscape can free students from seeing virtual schooling as an insurmountable obstacle. Learning to center and focus on one’s own performance and journey to success within these new confines, rather than on the confines themselves, can cultivate a more productive, motivated student mindset in the face of almost any obstacle.
Tips for parents of students: be mindful of distractions they have in their room or desk when in online class: do they have their phone or access to video games? Set up ground rules to follow. The single biggest threat to academic performance is their phone followed by video games, which are both especially damaging without adequate boundaries or impulse control skills.
Tips for teachers: make sure to call on students and engage in more dialogue vs. lecturing during class time. Use this time to connect and sample student understanding, and record asynchronous lectures that can be viewed offline and then quizzed about later. This model will increase an understanding of challenges students are facing, and will decrease disengagement.
Learning to channel effort and attention towards individual needs, goals, and challenges will help maintain a flexible student mindset in which your child can regularly assess their best path to success. Rather than base one’s mentality and associated behaviors in the difficulties themselves, students must channel their focus towards a more skillful understanding of what they may require to find personal success within the novel context of any such challenges. With this new attitude your student can be prepared to adapt and respond effectively to any nuances and bumps along the road to college.