A Signal Hill Secondary School student is advising his peers on the importance of structure in getting the best out of online learning.
Nickosy Waldron was speaking on Tuesday as the THA Division of Education, Innovation and Energy hosted the final segment of their three-part virtual panel discussion.
Waldron said online schooling has been a challenge and it is hard to find a balance.
However, he has developed techniques to help him through the school year. He said acceptance of the challenges is the first step.
“Covid19 is a reality – we must accept that. There is nothing we can do about it as this point," Waldron said.
"The way we go to school now, which is online, is the new normal. There are assignments that we have to do, and they must be completed by particular deadlines. We can only focus our energies and our efforts on things that we can control – what is the point of stressing on something you cannot control?”
He said structure is crucial.
“Structure minimises chaos; chaos leads to me overthinking and being flustered and overwhelmed – I am sure that is also the case for a lot of students.
“What I do, I set a timetable that includes everything that happens on a daily basis. On that timetable, you also set personal deadlines for yourself for assignments and school work that you were given so that you are able to complete it before the given due date, so that you can review it, make corrections and then submit it. In that way, you would not be as flustered and you would hand in work of substance.”
He also stressed the importance of recreational activities.
He said some things that help him relax are exercising, scrolling through social media, watching movies, sleeping and sometimes just sitting enjoying nature.
Addressing the students, the Education Division Programme Officer II Vanessa Boyce said the session sought to provide guidance and support in manoeuvring the online world.
She acknowledged that students have had to adjust their learning, come out of their comfort zones – unable to interact with their friends and classmates in the classroom and be able to learn from teachers face to face.
She said studies have shown that this pandemic has caused an economic impact on countries and societies as well as psychological and social impact on students and families.
School psychologist Joy McPherson said the pandemic has wrecked the daily routine of students.
“You were in this space called a safe space, for your holistic development, and whereas school sought to look at your academics, it also helped to build and maintain social connections, build communication skills, managerial skills and leadership skills.”
She said since March 2020, there have been changes.
“Your home became your school, and your bedroom, dining room or kitchen became your classrooms. You no longer have physical contact with your teachers and a lot of students – especially the older ones – became responsible for assisting their siblings, especially with their online classes.
"You would now have to help your parents around the home – because now you’re home, in the space, and you need to help, so the additional responsibilities were there on you.”
She said students who were struggling prior to the pandemic were still at a disadvantage.
“That change to the education system to the virtual environment did not change that.”
She pointed to expectations from parents, teachers and the students themselves.
“Parents were parenting behind the mask, teachers were behind the screen, and you were left to find the perfect balance, but your perfect balance is now your virtual reality.”
She said fear, stress, depression, anxiety, frustration and isolation are the body and mind’s response to the current situation.
“These are mental challenges, but the good thing about mental challenges is what can one do – communicate, express your emotions positively, create structure, take care of your physical needs and take time to connect with family and friends.”