With 2020 a year many students (& others) would like to put past them there are some key learnings that are useful to take particular note of. With the 2021 school year about to start and many unknowns still ahead (due to the ongoing pandemic world wide) students will no doubt be planning to start the year positively. Let’s hope all students get to attend school in person for the year though only time will tell.
In my experience these are the 6 key learnings as a result of working with students during 2020, across all year levels, and having spoken to many others. Whilst most of these are similar to what students regularly face, 2020 saw students face these challenges even more so.
Key Learnings from 2020 for students
By far motivation was the biggest challenge for students of all ages in 2020 though in particular it was regularly mentioned by many senior students as being something they were struggling with. The key issue at play here for many students, particularly those in Melbourne who experienced a lengthy lockdown, was not being in the classroom and having the direct support of their peers and teachers with their learning. As this became more prevalent amongst the students I work with I wrote a blog to support them and it included tips on focus and motivation.
Being and staying motivated can be difficult for students at the best of times and is not something that will just magically appear. I regularly use this quote when discussing it with students – “action precedes motivation”.
- Self Advocacy
Seeking assistance from teachers became another challenge for students particularly when they started working remotely. Whilst teachers did such an amazing job supporting students to continue their learning online, many students found it awkward to ask questions or seek assistance like they would have ordinarily done in the classroom environment. Many students actually stopped completely whilst others did occasionally seek help emailing their teachers. I know my own son who was completing Year 12 went from regularly touching base with his teachers in person outside of class to only doing it sometimes during class. This definitely was something that impacted many students and no doubt was reflected in their results.
Asking the teachers for help, guidance or to review work is something I encourage students to do more of – here is a blog I wrote on this topic with tips.
- Keeping up with the workload
One of the other key issues was due to the nature of online learning many students found themselves picking and choosing what work to do. As a result many found themselves getting behind with their work and once that happened they then often struggled to catch up.
With the new school year approaching It is important that students start the year on top and try and stay there in terms of their workload. Naturally there will be times where this is harder than others but it is usually easier to catch up as you go than let it get too out of control where it can become overwhelming. Using a planning tool will assist with this – it can be a diary, planner, App, something electronic or even a calendar. For more information on why students should use such tools click here.
The longer online learning went on, many students (and teachers) felt fatigued by the nature of using technology and laptops/computers to communicate on a daily basis. Each school naturally had their own set up, structure and process for how the school day would run. I must admit whilst many expected their students to be online all day, following pretty much a normal timetable, it was much better than others whereby they provided work at the start of the week and then expected students to complete it. I know many students struggled with this approach due to the lack of structure.
Students also struggled with sitting at a desk all day and using technology compared to being in a regular classroom with their peers – many felt they never really had a break from it.
I did see many schools alter their approaches after the first period of lockdown for the better after receiving feedback from students and parents. The State Government in Victoria also sought feedback to develop best practice for the future as well (click here to read the reports). I think if we end up facing this again in 2021, schools will have no doubt learnt plenty about what did and didn’t work and be better equipped to support students with their learning.
Distractions are always a challenge for students. Online learning just provided an even greater opportunity for students to find themselves getting distracted more easily whilst trying to learn and focus on their school work.
Many students would also be communicating with their mates on other platforms at the same time as being online for classes, therefore not entirely concentrating 100% on lessons. For many others the temptation to game, watch Netflix or something else, was too great and so easy for them to do instead of focus on lessons.
Distractions are something a student needs to learn to deal with and have self discipline to manage and focus on the workload they have to complete. Using a diary or planner assists a student to know what they need to do, having a plan – listing out what work needs to be completed each day and prioritising it, as well as being accountable are just some of the tools that can assist a student in terms of managing distractions.
- Social aspects
Many students struggled during 2020 with learning at home and not regularly seeing and spending time with their school friends and other mates. The fortunate side though for these students was having the technology available made it easy to actually keep in touch even if they didn’t see each other in person. I have regularly made comment to the affect that if this happened when I was growing up it would have been very different as the only technology we really had was a telephone!
On the flip side I guess for many senior students not having the distraction of social events might have been a positive. Having said that all students in 2021 will have to learn to manage and find the balance between school work and social activities.
Hopefully 2021 will see students start the year at school and hopefully stay there – only time will tell right now! My final piece of advice to students is to make a positive start and put in the best effort you can!
To discuss how I might be able to assist your child please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via email – firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on 0409 967 166.