College Captains develop successful online learning strategies

 “It’s easy to get sad but it’s important to remember you have goals and aspirations. You’ve got to keep your head held high in that respect."

— Minna H.

Every single student is different in how they will approach learning online and studying from home. Some of our Year 12 College Captains, Zac H., Minna H. and Khushi P., have shared their inspirational tips on how students can focus on, and still achieve, their academic goals for 2020 and beyond.

“When studying from home you need to set yourself up for success,” says Zac, “it’s important to get into a work mindset, put your phone away, come to your workspace and know that’s where you’re going to work. You need a strong will to learn because procrastination comes very easily.”

Khushi agrees, “It’s also important having your designated work space set up with all your text books ready. Don’t study in your bed or sit in a place where you watch TV.”

Pen and paper, or an electronic check-list, can help with organising your day “write down the things you need to do beforehand,” Minna advises. “Ticking things off is a great way to keep on track and soon enough you will find the whole page ticked off.”

Khushi enthuses, “I love booklets that help keep your day organised. I bought a book which has a to-do list, and gives me an hour-by-hour space for each day, so it’s great for helping me stick to my timetable.”

Zac believes setting and achieving goals can be extremely fulfilling. “Crossing off that certain thing and moving onto the next one is great. By the end of the day you have a full list of complete tasks. You feel like, ‘Wow, I really am proud of myself.’”

“We all need to take this one day at a time and that’s exactly the same thing with study from home,” says Minna. “Taking one day at a time is really useful for what we’re going through right now.”

Zac explains, “Even though our timetables are less strict than at school we still have tasks to complete for that lesson. For example with Physics you might need to complete readings and work examples. After that you might have time to do recreational activities. Just make sure you get those tasks done first.”

The consensus from Springfield seniors is to use the school timetable as a guide. Minna explains, “We get the schedule times for when we have Zoom classes or when we need to be online for Microsoft Teams.”

With technology there’s going to be a few buffers when you’re learning online, “You may need to look for clarification from your teacher,” says Minna. “It’s all new. We’re trying to figure out how this technology works and if it doesn’t work for a second you can’t help that. You need to behave as if you were in class, asking questions, making sure you are engaged. It is hard when you’re not there but you need to make the effort.”

Not seeing school friends every day can be emotionally challenging “I think it’s really hard especially because I’m a little bit more extroverted,” admits Khushi. “My friends and I schedule our lunch time and we FaceTime no matter what day it is. It keeps you sane!”

Zac agrees: “It is hard when you’re at home and not seeing your friends. However, online classes help because you can see your teacher and you can see all your friends, share the same jokes and join in with the same banter.”

Easily accessible online connections between students and teachers is particularly helpful. Zac says, “Khushi needed help with a Physics question so she FaceTimed me and I worked her through it and we had a chat. You can still talk face to face, whether it’s though FaceTime or Zoom meetings.”

As well as keeping friendships active it’s also important to keep goals active. At the beginning of 2020 senior students set smart goals, now these goals are helping them through the challenges of working form home. Minna says realistically “some goals may not be able to be achieved right now with the current situation.” However, by taking a strong course of action now, when things return to normal, she can “jump straight into those goals again and I can start doing more within school.” 

Anyone can set smart goals, Khushi explains, “Study is going towards something bigger. In younger grades it may be focusing on academic awards, but work towards your goal no matter what. Your goal is knowing what you want to achieve and that is important.”

Developing home study skills to reach those goals may take a little effort and Minna has advice which helps her focus. Use a timer and start with a 20 minute session doing French or Math, then move onto something else for 20 minutes. “Keep your brain active doing little bits,” she advises. Start slow and then “build yourself up from there and sustain longer periods of time” and you’ll get into the work flow a bit more.

Khushi advises on limiting screen time on a smartphone or tablet to help with developing home study skills. “I can get distracted by any kind of social media,” she admits. “You can set times in the settings of your iPhone when you’re not allowed to open certain apps which is really helpful. If you do click on an app it reminds you that you’re not allowed to be on social media right now. The tools that technology has right now are amazing.”

Apart from good study habits our students also believe in a balance with healthy living. During this time it might be easy to develop bad habits by sitting around binge-watching TV and eating Easter chocolates, but this can lead to lethargy. Minna says it’s important to “make sure your physical and mental health is looked after.”

Zac explains he keeps a healthy outlook with running, “I do boys sport and running club at school and also the primary sports club. It’s been hard losing all of those. However, you can still go for a run, and regular exercise, so long as you keep your distance from people.”

Like many at home our students are trying to remain positive, Minna says, “I like to think of it as this is time we are gaining as opposed to time we are losing. Now I’ve adopted that mindset my life is so much more relaxed in some ways.”

Zac explains, “It can be very hard at this time and even pretty scary. You get more time but is challenging, it gives you a chance to increase your own mindset, your own motivation levels, and definitely learning technological advancements. Remember as bleak as it may seem there are positives that will come out of this.”

While the Captains are disappointed because they can’t do as much with their captaincy for the moment they will be providing a strong “virtual leadership,” says Minna.

The Captains want to remind students “If you’re someone who struggles with self motivation or keeping yourself on task there are many people who are truly willing to help you with this journey,” explains Khushi. “Just because we are physically isolated doesn’t mean that we’re not there for everyone.” Students who are struggling can contact Mrs Johnson, their Pastoral Care Teacher, “Or even one of us,” says Khushi. “if you maybe don’t feel comfortable talking to your teacher about something then come to one of us, email us, set up a zoom meeting or anything, and I think we would absolutely love to help everyone.”

“I have vulnerable family members and people in my life whom I love and I don’t want to be a reason for them getting sick. I keep reminding myself it’s bigger than just me. Even though there are things I’ve had to sacrifice, things I might not get to do, at the end of the day that’s just how it is right now.”

— Minna H.