Sol, Grade 10, Reflects on Adapting to Virtual School

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Sol, Grade 10, Reflects on Adapting to Virtual School

Virtual School was a big, abrupt transition from regular school. It has been challenging to deal with at times, says tenth-grader, Sol. During the past ten weeks, she's gained some valuable insights that she's shared with us.  

Although Virtual School was a big, abrupt transition from regular school, thanks to this experience, I feel that I have learned a few lifelong lessons: the impacts of a flexible schedule, using my time wisely, and the importance of staying organized. 

The first lesson I learned was the potential pitfalls of a flexible schedule. At first, I loved being free from restrictions and the flexibility of my schedule. I could do whatever I wanted with my time and choose to work in coffee shops or at a friend’s house. And I could finally wake up when I wanted to!

However, the more time I spent without a set schedule, the more I began to let up on the “rules” I had set for myself. I found that it was easier for me to give in to distractions like social media, Netflix, or Youtube when someone wasn’t constantly reminding me to get my work done. On a regular school day, my teachers and peers would tell me of the upcoming deadlines assessments, but now I had to keep track of my academics. 

I ended up pulling several all-nighters, some consecutively. As a result, my regular sleep routine was off. I had a hard time paying attention during calls, meeting deadlines, submitting quality work. With large chunks of my time being taken away for school work, I had very little time for other things I enjoy, like playing the piano and practicing the violin. I was starting to feel lethargic and even mildly depressed. 

However, I am still thankful for that first couple of weeks. I learned the negative impacts of a flexible schedule and decided to stick to a fixed sleep schedule. Although I was staying up late, I forced myself, progressively, to start going to bed earlier and earlier each day, to get closer to my original routine. 

Setting structure and keeping routines helped Sol when she realized her schedule was "too" flexible.

Just doing this helped my academics dramatically. And now, even when I don’t have a structured daily routine, I can complete my work without feeling drained. For as much freedom flexibility provides you, you have to be responsible for making the most out of your time. If you are not efficient with the flexibility you have, you will waste more time with it than without it.

The second lesson I have learned is managing my time. In the first few weeks, I underestimated the amount of time it would take to get my work done and thought I had plenty of time. With what I thought was “so much extra time” on my hands, I spent a lot of it online and realized how people get addicted so quickly. I kept going back to it. And when I finally did get to work, I would be drained and barely have energy left to complete my assignments. 

That is when I realized that by chunking my work into smaller tasks, I would not get as distracted. If I had a large project due, I would first think about the total time I planned on investing in it. Then I would divide that into two or three sessions, lasting 30 - 45 minutes. 

Another tactic I learned was to complete two or three short tasks to feel a sense of achievement. Then I could award myself with something not related to schoolwork. Without virtual school, I wouldn’t have realized the importance of self-control.

The last big lesson I have learned during my Virtual School experience is the importance of organizing my work. During my first couple of weeks, I was overwhelmed with the whole experience of suddenly doing all my studying online. Online, there are distractions everywhere. So, for the first time, I used a checklist to list everything I had to accomplish for the day. I tried out a few different apps, but the ‘Reminders’ app on my laptop has been the most helpful. 

Every day, I start by listing everything I have to complete. I write the subject and the title of the assignment right next to it, e.g., World Studies - Brainstorm Ideas for Project. I even add things that are not school-related, for example, “Others - Practice Violin.” That gives me a better idea of everything that I have to do.

Sol finds that organizing everything in "Reminders" at the beginning of the day, is very helpful.

Since Virtual School has provided me with a clearer insight into what college is like, I know I need to start polishing up these three skills. The workload will be a lot more demanding, and there will be even more for me to juggle. Thanks to the Virtual School experience, I feel a lot more confident about making the most of my future college responsibilities.

But, despite my newfound insights, and despite the confidence, I have gained, there are many things that only ‘real school’ can offer. I miss the atmosphere- chatting with friends in line at the kiosk, talking with teachers in the corridors, studying in the library, and goofing around with my friends. I never expected to miss these trivial moments so much, yet they are among the most memorable when I look back. In school, they were just a part of daily life, but now I realize how important and precious they are, and that I have been taking them for granted.

Sol has realized how precious the simple things she took for granted are, as she realizes how many of the "trivial moments" are some of her most precious memories. 

I would do anything to go back to these times. I miss talking to my friends, ranting to each other about how much work we had or how scared we were for a project or a test, wishing school was over. 

Now, my classmates and I all just hope to be able to return to campus as soon as possible.

Author: Tanya Olander
Communications Officer


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