Tips for succeeding at online school

Online School
Evelyn Rennaker, freshman, works on a remote learning project for her English Class. Photo by Annika Rennaker

**** NOTE: The Sr. manager of corporate communications at CODCA shared the reporter’s questions with Teri Cady, head of school, and Courtney Ludwig & Shannon Smith, school advisors at CODCA. When CODCA is mentioned as a source, the responses come from the aforementioned staff at CODCA who responded to the reporter’s questions.

   According to the New York Times, over 30,000 K-12 schools across the U.S. have been temporarily shut down due to coronavirus. Of these schools, a majority have utilized some form or another of online learning, and students, who have become accustomed to a traditional classroom setting, have now had to make the switch to virtual classrooms. 

   Destinations Career Academy of Colorado (CODCA), a public online K-12 school, recognizes the challenges that come with switching to online school. “[Students] initially have a hard time making this transition due to a learning curve with the online platform and program and disciplining themselves to complete work independently,” said CODCA school advisors.

   Kena Rindfleisch, current student at Arapahoe Community College, struggled with self-discipline when she started online school in middle school. “The best way I was able to focus was to isolate myself from all distractions. Also, I found that working in my most productive time of day can help when dealing with harder assignments or long online tests,” said Rindfleisch. 

   Staying focused, however, can still be a challenge when you don’t have a teacher standing over your shoulder making sure you’re on task. For students who still struggle with staying productive at home, CODCA said, “A few general tips I give students is to create a routine for themselves that they follow each day, a schedule that takes into consideration their instruction time, their independent study time and has built-in breaks.” 

   Kaitlynn Jackson, math teacher, also recommends writing in a planner or a calendar as a means to organize your time. Jackson said, “I think this is a good skill for students to learn, especially seniors who will be going off to college, because you have a lot more freedom and you have a lot more time when you’re in college. Trying to learn how to structure your time now and self-motivate is going to be hopefully really beneficial for those students.”

   Overworking, however, can be just as detrimental to your online learning success as procrastinating, and can negatively impact your overall health. “Sitting in front of a computer all day can take a toll on your well-being,” Rindfleisch said. To give her eyes a break from the screen, Rindfleisch would do yoga, dance, and go on walks and runs to de-stress and refocus.

   CODCA said, “The most important suggestion I would make to a student just getting started is to make sure to reach out for help when needed.  It is important not to ignore something that is not understood. It is important to allow the school staff to provide support.” 

   At HR and across the district, technology has played an important role in allowing teachers to provide this support. Zoom and Google Meet, for example, are being used by teachers to communicate via video chat with students.

   This communication can play a very important part in keeping teachers and students connected during these uncertain times. CODCA said, “Communication and relationship building are key to success in the online environment and both the student and teacher have a role in prioritizing this communication.”  

Annika Rennaker, Staff Reporter

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