Tips for Distance Learning
One of the biggest challenges I experienced when I decided to move to Boston was the status of my college courses. I had enrolled in a doctorate program at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio and was actively pursuing an Ed.D in Leadership Studies, a topic of great interest to me. The program would take four to five years to complete, but since I had been living in the Cincinnati area and had no plans to move, it seemed like an ideal fit.
Two years into the program, I was offered the position as Headmaster at Malden Catholic which was an opportunity of a lifetime and I feared my move to Boston would be the end of my doctorate.
I explained my dilemma to my professor and to my surprise, I was told I could complete my last few classes via distance learning. I immediately agreed.
I am enrolled in two doctoral courses this semester, and I am keeping up with my assignments. So here are a few tips that help me stay on top of my classwork, that you might be helpful to you:
- Designate a place for homework. I designated a specific place where homework is completed. I chose a small desk in our quiet spare bedroom. I found that the living room had too many distractions.
- Make a hard copy (written) of all assignments by class. A virtual world tends to be "out of sight, out of mind." I write out my assignments for every class and then post them on the wall. This makes the virtual world of distance learning more real and understandable.
- Send an email to the teacher to clarify the list. After I make my written list of assignments, I email it to my teacher to clarify the content. I send something like, “Dear Professor, from what I understand, you need me to do this, this and this. Correct?” This helps me further my understanding and create a connection with my instructor. Now, I have told a real person out there what I am going to do. This helps me feel more accountable.
- Do work by time, not assignment. For some reason, I find distance learning to be more draining than classroom work. This might be because I am constantly fighting distractions in the home environment or because online assignments seem to take longer because I need to learn the information on my own. Therefore, it is very helpful to focus on the amount of time that passes for the assignment instead of completing the assignment. Break assignments up in increments. I do one-hour blocks of work and then take a short break. This helps me avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- Email the teacher with any questions or concerns. One of the challenges of distance learning is not having the immediate satisfaction of asking a question when you do not understand the material. With distance learning, you can still ask your teacher a question or to clarify the assignment, through email. When in doubt, I email your teacher with any questions or concerns.
- Find your best time to work. For me, I can concentrate best in the morning. I’ll get up early, wake myself up by taking the dog out, have a snack and then sit down to work. This is my productive time and it will be helpful for you to find a time that is most productive for you.
Distance learning can be challenging, but using these guidelines, I was able to keep up with my own courses. Hopefully, these tips will help our students in their transition to our new platform. I realize that what works for me doesn’t work for everyone, but it's important to figure out strategies to help make distance learning a normal part of our lives, at least for the time being.
Social Distancing Expectations
We would also like to remind parents that we all need to honor the request from state leaders and federal government to follow current safety protocols. Social distancing should be observed and families should not host gatherings of our students. I realize how important a teen's social life is, but it's imperative that we all take the safety measures outlined by health officials.
Christian and Social Service
We want families to know that we are developing a new policy with revisions regarding Christian Service requirements for the remainder of the school year. We will have more details and information for you by the end of this week. In honor of social distancing, please suspend any previously scheduled in person service plans that you might have made.
John K. Thornburg