These are unprecedented times for us all and working from home is not a normal.
We are all creatures of habit. This automation of normal, routine tasks allows us to focus our attention on the irregular or surprising happenings around us. The routine also helps us set the mood and disposition for the day. When things become non-routine, we need to spend more energy on managing the situation, which stops us learning effectively.
Disruption of School Routine
The regular breaks between classes, the time of day we eat and play and socialise have all built up a pattern in our heads for when we need to focus and when we can relax. Working at home can disrupt this, particularly if we allow ourselves to slip into holiday mode sleeping in to 11:00am and going to bed late. This will affect motivation and our ability to focus productively. Year 12’s in particular, need to stay focussed.
Establish a standard pattern of times and activities and use the normal school timetable if practicable). As there won’t be the normal school bells to prompt a change in activity use the clock on your computers to assit you. Your teachers will remind you to get ready for the next class on Microsoft teams (if applicable).
Being at home and being at school establish quite separate mindsets. Some of you may experience some difficult learning at home. A positive and constructive mindset is important.
Establish a suitable mindset by trying to keep to a normal routine. Dress properly as if you were going out. Don’t bring food or drink into your workspace as this makes it seem less formal. Use check lists and other organisational tools to map out each day. Build exercise into each day and try to vary the activity to maintain interest.
The subtle messages provided by school, classrooms, environment, peers and teachers all contribute to your readiness to learn. While you cannot replicate the exact environment, you can establish a new space at home which is just for working. Have all the resources you need handy, have a pinboard in your normal line of sight to place reminders of assessment and due dates. Temperature, seating and lighting can all have a significant impact on how long you can remain working and how deeply you can focus. Studies have shown that an average temperature of 20-22 degrees Celsius works well. If the space gets too warm, your thinking will become sluggish. If it gets too cold, the discomfort this creates becomes a distraction.
Choose a chair which gives you good posture and is firm rather than too soft. Ensure the chair height and table height are appropriate so you are comfortable working for extended periods in this space.
For Year 12’s part of your daily to do list should specify sections of intensive study not classwork to spend a long chunk of time on the subject in preparation for exams.
We are social beings and a large part of our learning comes through human interactions. It is vital that you continue to interact with friends and family. Your teacher will no longer just be there if you need, so take the time to make contact (email or contribute in a course discussion) so that you can feel part of the class. A simple “Hi, how’s it going” can make the world of difference to your morale and energy levels for the rest of the day. Keep a regular part of your routine for catching up with friends. At least a couple of times a week, make a personal contact with your teacher (ask a question, offer a comment and get some feedback on your work).
All good learning requires feedback. Just checking the back of the book for the answer is not good feedback! Your course will require certain items of work to be submitted for feedback, but you should also find other ways to get affirmation or support. Suggest possible answers, read widely and offer a comment on something you have seen. Ensure you utilise all the various opportunities for regular feedback in each course. Go beyond just doing the minimum and see if you can explore the ideas a bit further and then offer comment or ask questions that give you feedback on this.