As an academic counselor at Tampa Prep, I’m often called upon to give advice. And as vain as it may sound, I really like giving advice. This year, of course, has thrown all of us advice-givers for a loop.
How do we do school during a global pandemic?
How do we stay motivated? And focused?
How do we organize our time and routines?
How do we thrive with these new circumstances- or just get by?
How do we persevere or make hard decisions when all options carry risk?
I don’t have universal answers to these questions. I don’t think anyone does. On the phone, I asked my 94-year-old grandmother and Tampa Prep faculty emeritus, Patricia Riggs what it was like to grow up during the Great Depression. Or to go to work in 1942-1945 to support the war effort, as brothers, fathers, husbands, and boyfriends left for Europe and the Pacific. How did she stay focused or motivated with all the unknowns? “Oh I don’t know,” she replied. “We were all in those things together.”
One thing I know for sure is that the Tampa Prep community is in this thing together, and the students, in particular, often have the best advice for each other. I heard from one middle school boy how he loads up his family’s slow cooker on the days he’s at home doing remote/asynchronous learning so that a hot meal is ready when his parents get home. Brilliant! And that got me thinking . . . what other tips might we have to share with each other?
TAMPA PREP STUDENT TIPS FOR REMOTE LEARNING:
One thing I do for at-home days is set two wake-up alarms. One of them gets me awake, but not quite up. The other actually wakes me up to not be as sleepy. It works better than one might think!
Check the [teacher’s PSL] Wayfinders every day after you think you’ve finished all your homework just in case you missed something. Don’t wait to check it at 10 pm like I did last night!
What helps me stay focused, is being in an area next to my mother. It helps me stay focused because my mother works from home, and whenever I feel like not working I look over to my left and see my mother hard at work and it makes me want to keep persevering.
Some tips for “At Home Days”: Take your phone, and put it in the room farthest away from you. DO NOT FALL INTO THE FOLLOWING TRAPS YOU MAY TRY TO CONVINCE YOURSELF OF “But I need it for my school work. But I need it for music. But I need two screens.” Don’t do it. Once you put your phone in another room you gradually will forget about it, I promise. One more tip to make your work more enjoyable is to get your favorite drink whether it’s tea, soda, coffee, kombucha or even water.
I recommend taking some downtime. Especially during lunch on your at-home days. Since you’re at your home, you probably want to do a lot of things you otherwise couldn’t do on campus (like pet your dog or go on a walk). So I recommend using the entire hour to your advantage. Play some video games, play with your pets, go on a walk, get some exercise. Lunch is supposed to be a break and with this schedule, we can enhance our experience.
What I have learned about myself this year so far is that I can do a lot of work. It takes a lot of planning, time-management and sacrifices, but there’s no feeling like the feeling of you sitting on the couch watching a movie with a smile on your face because you finished all your work.
I will plan a fun activity during the week to do that weekend like going to my favorite ice cream store, or going shopping or just watching that movie that everyone keeps saying is really good. Whenever I am stressed out during the week I just think, this weekend, in X amount of days, I’m going to go do that fun activity. It keeps me hopeful.
The little things that cause me to smile these days are doing funny things with my family. An example: today after school I took a little break and got the full-sized skeleton out of the garage and put it into my father’s work closet with a sign in the skeleton’s hands that said “Got any skeletons in the closet?”. My father luckily found it when I was in his office and seeing him laugh and smile made me happier and smile. Little things like that.
One junior sums it up:
All I can say is I’ve learned just how truly adaptable and resilient we are. This community is so mature and our care for each other and ourselves has gone above and beyond. We are so capable, despite how hard this has been.