Navigating virtual learning

Students learn to cope with distractions during virtual learning

Isabella Anderson, Staff Member

The room is silent, but sophomore Caleb Harms’ mind is abuzz with things to do. He checks his calendar and sees the seemingly endless list of assignments due soon. Harms is one of the many students struggling to find motivation during online learning. He faces problems with getting his work turned in on time and staying focused during zoom meetings.
“It’s hard to listen to the teachers and hear everything they’re saying. It’s hard to stay motivated since you’re at home. The teachers can’t control you, so you can do whatever you want,” Harms said.
Like many others, Harms is worried for what next semester will bring. With school remaining virtual until at least Jan. 19, he’s worried about losing determination to do his best.
“I feel like as the year goes on, and we stay virtual, the less motivated I’ll get. Right now I’m still showing up, but I’m worried it’ll get to the point where I’m not caring anymore and not showing up at all,” Harms said.
Sophomore Elizabeth Fritz-Kent has different ideas on how she’s going to do her best to stay involved. She finds limiting distractions and finding something personal to motivate her is the best way to stay driven.
“Looking at the grade book and seeing good grades definitely motivates me. My parents and my brother keep me motivated, and they help a lot with keeping me focused, so I think I can handle it in the second semester.,” Fritz-Kent said.
English teacher Amanda Armstrong is doing her best to keep students in her class motivated and coming to class everyday. She believes a learning environment should be welcoming, so she’s decided to give participation points to her students for coming to class.
“I’m putting the names of students who attend in a raffle, their name has been submitted for as many times they’ve come to class. They have the chance to win points towards their participation grade. I need to see them, and it makes it more of a game. It gives them a way to be a part of it,” Armstrong said.
Laurnece Leonhardt is another teacher making a change to his class. As a teacher of multiple AP classes, including AP Psychology and AP World History, he believes it’s important for students to stay calm and focus on what they can get done, instead of stressing about what can’t.
“I’ve been trying to use sanity sheets, where you list your priorities and come up with a general plan for what you’re going to get done that week,” Leonhardt said. “It’s a plan. You may have to modify it as you go along, but when you’ve got something set out in front of you, it gives you a sense of control.”
While Leonhardt believes having a plan is the best way to pproach the struggle of finding motivation, Armstrong believes teachers should be doing more to help students. She believes communication between students and teachers is viable to keep students coming to class and turning assignments in.
“When a kid hasn’t been showing up or doing their assignments, I make personal phone calls to them. I’m not calling their parents, I’m asking to speak to the student. You need to hear that voice, that I’m really rooting for you,” Armstrong said.
Fritz-Kent has noticed a change in teachers’ attitude. She’s glad that teachers are actively trying to engage students and keep them motivated.
“A lot of teachers are trying to have fun with the kids. They’re definitely trying to interact with them more. My Spanish teacher is doing a lot more activities with us, and my math teacher tells us jokes all the time. They do a lot of interacting to try to keep us comfortable and awake,” Fritz-Kent said.
Fritz-Kent is determined to stay on top of things and remain a straight-A student. She does this by managing her time and refusing to procrastinate on assignments.
“I’m doing more work in classes where I get out of zoom early in. I try to do work that I have for other classes too, and I don’t get that on a usual school day,” Fritz-Kent said.
Even though sometimes school can be overwhelming, Fritz-Kent does her best to get assignments finished and turned in on time. She believes one of the keys to motivation is staying on top of things, and Leonhardt can’t help but to agree.
“You’re still in school, but it will get better. You have to keep stepping forward that day, so don’t focus on what you don’t have, but focus on what you do have. Focus on what you can control and get some things done,” Leonhardt said.
Though he knows it will be an uphill battle, Harms has taken others’ advice and developed a plan for next semester. He feels with enough support he’ll be able to continue doing well in school.
“I’m going to reward myself when I complete assignments. That way when I finish an assignment I’ll do another one. I think others should find something meaningful to them to help them do their work,” Harms said. “I think with help from family and teachers I can stay motivated throughout the next semester and hopefully I can finish with good grades.”