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5 Virtual School Productivity Tips

As teachers start to think about going back to school, there will be many students who are returning to class either in a fully virtual or hybrid learning environment. While many students transitioned to this type of learning environment suddenly and quickly in 2020, heading into a new school year might still be a big adjustment for some students.

Explore these tips below to encourage students to remain engaged and productive.

Notebooks, Pencils, and a Planner

Your students are digital natives. The first instinct of students might be to take any and all class notes and start working on all assignments on their computers. However, taking notes by hand with a pen and paper might actually be the better option when listening to a class because it can help you to improve the way you remember information. Having designated notebooks and folders for different school subjects can help ensure students are well organized, and stay focused on their task. Keeping track of assignments in a designated planner can also help students stay organized and even serve as a creative and relaxing outlet, especially bullet journaling.

Encourage Screen-Free Time

During day-to-day life, there’s no getting around spending a significant amount of the day staring at some kind of screen. We’ve all heard of (or experienced for ourselves) headaches and other negative physical effects after looking at electronic screens for long periods of time. Staying mindful of screen time is important, but it can be difficult to avoid prolonged periods of screen time when learning from home. Students should set reminders for periodic breaks throughout the day where they can get up from their desks, walk away from their computers (and tablets, phones, TVs, and other screens), and spend a few minutes walking outside, looking out of a window, reading a book, or just resting their eyes for a bit. Adjusting screen brightness, using dark mode on available apps and websites, and working in a well-lit room can also help to reduce eye strain. You’ve probably heard this before, but cutting back on screen time before bed is a must. Many of us have a bad habit of scrolling on our phones, watching TV, or using the computer before we go to sleep, but practicing a screen-free nighttime ritual can help us to sleep better and reduce stress.

Website Blockers

In any classroom setting—virtual, in-person, and any mix of the two —distraction will happen. But in a virtual setting, it’s so easy to simply open up a new tab and start browsing when we start to lose interest in whatever we are supposed to be focusing on. While there is no way to eliminate distraction once and for all, there are downloadable website blockers users can schedule “work mode” hours where access to sites that are normally distracting can be temporarily blocked. These types of blockers can be especially useful during class time, throughout homework hours, or even when it’s time to take a mental health break from the Internet.

Create a Sensible Study Environment

It can be tempting for students to work from the sofa or bed. But, working from the sofa or a bed can actually change a place where you feel relaxed and safe into a space you might have trouble sleeping in. Additionally, it can cause bad posture, make it harder to concentrate, and decrease productivity. Encourage students to try to wake up around the same time each day, at least 30 minutes before they need to be online for class; change into fresh clothes, and set up a designated workspace so that they can set a boundary between where they rest and relax and where they focus. Creating a perceptual boundary between an at-home workspace and a place to decompress and recharge is essential to both mental and physical health.

Cell Phone Jail

Suggest to your students to put their phones away from them. When distractions are too accessible, productivity and the ability to focus suffer as a result. Schoolwork can feel frustrating, and the longer it takes to get things done, the more discouraging it can become. Try to encourage your students to have some distance from their social media. If your students mention they need their phones so that they can listen to music while they do work, point them in the direction of the desktop apps.

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