The Truth About Zoom Classes… and how to help yourself
As you are all WELL aware… we have not been in “true” school for over a year now. As of March 13, 2020, I have not had one fully in-person class. When school shut down in March, my school did not have us do anything for the rest of the year-we were just done. There were no finals or anything! I loved it, but at the same time it was kind of difficult going back to school in August. I went from doing nothing school related to straight into college.
As you guys have read before, I was going to a small college about an hour away from home at the beginning of this year. We had mixed classes, which means I went to class about half of the days, and the other half we went online. It was a lot to keep up with! Plus, each teacher did it differently. In biology, the students were split in half, and the first half went one day, and the second half went another day. The days you went to class were laid out in the syllabus. For my education class, our professor would just tell us to come to class one day and not come the other day. This was really hard because sometimes she only told us an hour before we went to class. AND… I had early classes so I had to be on a zoom call when my roommate was still sleeping. AND… it is so hard to focus when they are lecturing and you have the ability to do anything you want on your computer. All in all, it is hard… I will not lie!
Today, I wanted to explain to you some of my (and other people’s) troubles, and how to help them! Whether you are in high school or college, life is not normal. Maybe you do go to school, but probably not for the entire day or not for the entire week. I am sure you still have a lot of online work! I am here for you! So, I wanted to format this blog like this: start with a problem I have been through/seen with others, then come up with a way to help it! Feel free to let me know in the comments if I missed something or other ways you have helped yourself make this time a little easier:)
#1. Focusing in class
Let’s be honest. When class is all online you are basically able to do anything you want on your computer. Unless your teacher can monitor your screen, they will never know. You can watch a movie, do other homework, or even play video games. This has been my biggest problem though all of COVID.
- Come to class with only your Zoom window open (and your notes page if you take notes on the computer). Start with the mindset that you will not do anything else for the entire class period.
- Remove all other distractions from your desk and put your phone in another room. Anything that would be easy to grab and play with, take it away before class even starts.
- When you are starting to think about opening another tab on your computer, pretend like the teacher will call on you at any minute so you have to give your full attention.
- Take good notes that take your full attention. These will help in the future when you have a test, and make sure you cannot do anything else at the time.
#2. Keeping track of the homework
In traditional school, my teachers would write the homework on the board or at least say what we had to do at the end of class. The best way to keep track of this was in a planner. However, now there is no board to write it down, and assignments can get a lot more complicated in college than they were in high school (even during normal times). You may think you have everything done, but realize there is another assignment that just popped up on your feed. If you look at 11:55 when most assignments are due at midnight, you may run into an issue
- Read through the syllabus at the beginning of the semester and write down all the big assignments the professor has planned for you. Below are a couple picture of a bullet journal spread I featured in “Semester 2 Spreads_ to help with this. Most teachers do not write all the small stuff in the syllabus, so just make sure you have all the big essays, quizzes, etc. on your spread. If they do write down the smaller individual assignments, I would recommend writing these in the weekly pages of your planner.
- Take notes on anything your teacher mentions you have to do. They will usually tell you the assignments coming up, so keep your planner close by through all of class.
- Check your online homework site once a day: for some people it is hard to write everything down, but most things are online right now anyway. If you have something like Canvas or Google Classroom, you can check that for updates daily. I usually do this around the time I wake up so if I missed something I have all day to get it done. Most of the time things are due at midnight.
- Recognize the reoccuring homework and your teachers’ patterns: most teachers have a set way of doing homework, so you need to figure this out. You may have one big assignment every week in one class, or just a few after every class period. For one of my classes, she posts the homework everyday on a slide, so I always check that. For another, I just know I have an assignment due every Thursday. If you can write down their patterns, then you know exactly what must get done. If something is out of their normal pattern, they wil usually tell you.
#3. Actually doing the homework
I find myself drifting away and doing other things when I need to get work done. This happens when I am in school in person and online. I find it is worse online because I have most of my assignments on the computer, which means I just want to surf the web while I am doing them. If the assignments are on paper, I have a better chance of finishing them because I just put all technology away. Part of this solution to this is pretty similar to some of the ideas in #1 (if you are on a computer).
- If you are working on the computer, you should close all your other tabs, and keep them closed. This is easier said than done, but as soon as you start to open other tabs, you lose focus.
- Clear off your desk and the areas around you. Take your phone in another room.
- Set a timer for 30 minutes to an hour on your phone, and when it goes off, give yourself a brain break (still keep the phone out of arms reach or in another room with the ringer on high). You want to make sure you are getting work done while not overworking your brain. If you do too much at once, you will just lose all focus as well. Or, it won’t be your best effort.
- Set time away every day: sometimes I just want to do homework all day and other days I don’t want to do any. Instead, make a decent amount of time to get things done everyday. Then you never get too much work piled up.
#4. Lack of social interaction
I know this one is not schoolwork based, but it has really been getting at a lot of people. School sucks for many people, and friends are what make it a little better. I struggle sitting at my desk with no one to talk to. It truthfully just gets sad sometimes, but I am trying to work through that. I understand why we are doing what we are doing, and that one day we will be able to go back to school. But I do I miss going to school with friends. I have come up with a few ideas on getting rid of the loneliness the comes with online classes
- Do a Zoom study group: another great thing about going to school with friends is you can study for tests with each other. Being able to quiz one another is a great study tool. So, set up a time that you and a few other friends can all have a Zoom meeting and study, or just do some schoolwork together.
- Socially distanced picnics: you can hang out with friends in any socially distanced way you want, but I think picnics are a great idea. Now that the weather is getting nicer going outside is a great option. You can even take your masks off and eat on your own picnic blankets! Either work on schoolwork or just hang out and talk.
- Make sure to check in on your friends: chances are if you are having a hard time, so are your friends. Make sure to check in on them.. just once a week, or maybe more? If you are struggling in school, let them know and maybe they can give you some pointers too!
#5. Connecting with professors
I have had a really hard time talking to my professors because I have never even met them in person! They never really got the chance to know me, and I never got a real chance to know them. Also, most communication is through email which is really hard. When you are in person, you can always just stay after class or come in early with a question. Most of the professors have office hours that you can come and talk to them, but there are other students there. If you have a personal issue, you have to send an email. And to be honest, half the time they don’t even respond.
- Write down your problems as they come. When you cannot figure something out or just need to ask the professor something, write it down. Then, when the time comes, you can ask everything all at once.
- Log on to the Zoom early: if you get into class early, you can chat with the professor for a minute before everyone else comes. Maybe then you can set up another time to talk privately. I find this works much better than emailing because most of my professors don’t respond to emails.
- Go to the office hours: if you are struggling at all, go to the office hours to get some help. Sometimes it takes awhile for them to get your question, but just do homework in the meantime.
- Explain what is bothering you: if you come to class early or stay late, just tell them what’s on your mind. If they have not been responding, let them know you want to get in contact with them. If their lecture style is really confusing to you, let them know so they can help you the best they can. They probably won’t change their entire lecture style for you, but they may give you some pointers on how to follow along better.
I hope you learned a lot today and can take some of these tips back to class. Have a wonderful week:)