Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed.
Upgraded Game Plan for Online Learning for 2021: The Forgotten Hacks
Updated: Dec 17, 2020
| by Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed., TPT Teaching and Coaching, 12/9/20|
As the year 2020 is drawing to a close, let’s take a moment to reflect. After some time with homeschooling, we now know that learning remotely requires strong willpower and a robust system of daily routines to ensure student success. The new year calls for a new game plan to strengthen academic performance as virtual instruction may continue. Homeschooling has its challenges and benefits. The comfort of home brings out unavoidable distractions while increasing family time. One of the biggest challenges for online learners is the alluring idea of foregoing all prior structure and routines since the physical boundary between school time and free time is completely removed. However, parents need to support students to remember the importance of healthy boundaries and structured time to maintain intellectual development and foster life skills. To upgrade online learning for 2021, let us revisit the tried-and-true hacks that are conducive and necessary for digital education. In learning as it is in life, the little things make all the difference.
The Importance of Getting Dressed
Clothes hold power over our mood, perception of reality, and productivity. Clothes create certain emotions within us. If clothes don’t dictate how you feel and act, then why do we immediately feel a tide of warm feelings wash over us the minute we put on soft pajamas or slip into a fuzzy pair of slippers? It is very easy to be lured into the study-from-bed routine because the clothes you are wearing are saying ‘hey, it’s time to chill and relax' (even though it’s not), but because of the clothes you are wearing, your body is still telling you it is not school time. Students need a clear shift between getting to work and unwinding the day. If you remove a morning routine and clothes that differentiate between starting and ending the day, then the entire day can become less purposeful. It is important to encourage your student to continue their morning routine and get dressed every day because the brain needs a physical cue that it’s time to work. You can opt for comfortable outfits, but avoid pajamas and bathrobes. Now, you are in control of your day, grades, and confidence. What you wear is a declaration of what you will do with your day. If your student has been struggling to get work done, suit up their armor is a great way to organically take productivity to the next level. Success is based on attitude; resilience starts from our perception. Clothes are the physical reminders of attitude and purpose.
The Power Shower
While we sleep, a number of toxins are released through sweats. Therefore, it is good to wash those out of your system with a morning shower. By now, we all have experienced and harnessed our individual power by carving out a highly personalized morning routine. A morning shower (warm or cold), however, is the ultimate secret weapon to starting the day on a high note. By showering in the morning, it will wake you up (almost as strong as caffeine), energize you, and make you feel like you are at the top of your game before the day even begins. That's a powerful feeling. There is something about morning showers that is very invigorating to our senses because it boosts our mental and physical energy as well as increases circulation. I think I would have been a different type of student without the power of waterworks. If you want to organically purify your energy, clear your mind, and increase your concentration for virtual instruction, tap into the morning shower routine.
Studying In Bed Undermines Your Productivity
Research shows bedtime work produces insomnia and using your bed for other activities can create an unhealthy association that may promote irregularity in your sleep (Sleep Foundation). Aside from the disruption of your natural sleeping pattern, studying in bed is a slippery slope altogether. The fact is, when you combine resting with studying in an ultra drowsy, sleepiness induced environment, you are handing over your willpower, energy level, and productivity. Even if you are a master at self-discipline, studying in bed will still minimize the sheer power of your productivity just because it is so tempting to call it a day after the first one to two hours of concentration before you are delivered into some kind of slumber or daydream. It will mess with your body’s internal clock, which makes being alert and productive extremely hard. So take back your power, do not give in to the sweet temptation of studying in bed. The sobering fact is, studying in bed only works in our dreams. In reality, we know from science that it rarely reaps any benefits.
Seared It Into Your Memory
It may seem archaic to handwrite anything nowadays. However, research indicates that students who write their notes by hand remember more than students who type their notes using a computer (PBS). True learning is when you process the essence of an idea by heart, able to recall it from memory, and thereby apply the concept as though it is your second nature. I would say rote memorization is not the chief aim, but knowledge accumulation is firmly dependent on memory of essential concepts from previous lessons. If you want to increase your academic performance, remember by heart the most important concepts instead of remembering everything because that is not the point nor is it humanly possible. But without memory of the distilled analysis of fundamental concepts, how can we expand our mind and accumulate wisdom? Whenever possible, write by hand and sear it into your memory the essence of each lesson you had learned from your instructor. This is half of the battle already, the rest is just consistent application.
I love food, but I also notice that it is often very hard to work with a full stomach. No matter how much I push, my brain just wants to stay put and I can’t get it to run like a well-oiled machine when I am full. After a hearty meal, I often want to watch tv and everything else goes to the bottom of my list. Sometimes I purposely eat a lighter meal to avoid feeling lethargic because I know I have large projects to tackle that day. Like comfortable clothes, too much food slows us down and interrupts our momentum. Body and mind, this is how we are wired down to the science of it. The answer: Separate eating time from learning time. Because online learning may be around for a while, build a firm habit of eating all your meals outside of school hours such as eating breakfast before instead of during class time. When you are at home, it is very easy to snack continually throughout the day and consume more than usual since the fridge is at our fingertips. It is true that food brings comfort, but too much comfort can make students lose sight of the task at hand. Food consumption is not the real concern; the real consequence is too much comfort can lower our sense of urgency and motivation for learning. When you constantly consume food during school time, it can easily distract you from your learning goals. After all, we know that food and sleep often go hand and hand (and in that order too). Before you know it, the day is over.
To make the most of one’s education, do try to think of being a student is like being in a long internship. This internship prepares you for the real world where you would get your first paycheck down the line when you have acquired enough skills. If you brush up your toolkit now with honest work and consistent application, then success will feel like second skin in the future.
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