Zoning Out of Zoom: 5 Tips to Zoom Back In!

Written by: Julia

Edited by: Megh

Visual by: Solenne

School’s back up! BT commends you for surviving our incredibly unorthodox (to say the very least) first weeks of school. 

Although ISM’s hallways would usually be bustling with energy, hugs, and gossip-sessions at this time of year, the recent pandemic has completely transformed students’ typical experience. Nowadays, ISM students face our very own plague: cabin fever. A student’s day to day schedule is composed of being stuck at home, staring at webcams, and watching our teachers and friends being reduced to pixels on our screen. 

Distance learning has been hard. After all, going to school and retaining some sense of normalcy while an extremely unprecedented pandemic rages away at full-force is quite strange to say the least. Top this off with a generous serving of technological difficulties and glitches, and in comes frustration, distraction and a sickness of the very computer screen that was once something students itched to keep open in class. 

It is important to keep in mind that everyone is trying their very best here. The teacher who struggles with Zoom (not calling out any names) is truly trying their best! The admin team who still visit our ghost-town of a campus are working incredibly hard to get us students the very best curriculum and education that we can possibly get amidst a worldwide pandemic.

In this article, BT has come up with a few tips that will hopefully support you through the distance learning journey.

What To Do:

Engage, engage, engage

Breakout rooms are a classroom tool that have elicited mixed responses from the majority of the student body. It can seem daunting to initiate conversations at first, – after all, talking and connecting with new peers can be rather difficult – and Zooming makes everything exponentially more awkward. The background lag, fear of talking over one another, and awkward silences that can fill these rooms can be quite uncomfortable, but use these breakout sessions to your advantage. A lot of students most likely share the same sentiments about these small group sessions, so it would do no harm to step up and start the conversation. This is the perfect opportunity to make new friends, especially in these times of isolation.

Taking Breaks

The fifteen minute breaks in between classes are there for a reason. Although it may seem tempting to sit back in your chair and wait for the next class, it’s not advisable and may lead to a hindrance of productivity levels! Surveys have consistently shown that breaks increase rather than hinder productivity. Take a moment to step away from your screen to do whatever you like, and get those endorphins running. There are a lot of short ten to fifteen minute YouTube videos catering to all sorts of movement – yoga, stretching, pilates and even high intensity interval training! Alternatively, mask up and take a walk outside (if this is an option accessible to you), or say hi to one of your furry friends and play around with them. Just make sure not to be late to your next class!

Communicate.

Communication is key. Now that our teacher’s doors are locked away from reach, long gone are classroom visits, and question pop-ins. How do we cope? Well, we have a whole arsenal of tools at our disposal. Teachers are one click away through Gmail, and Zoom tutorials are open three days a week. Our wonderful teachers are always here to support you through your scholastic journey, so reach out to them. They’d much rather you ask them your questions rather than receiving a submission completely unrelated to the original assignment because you were too scared to ask. Your friends are another resource. They’re here to help and are most likely as confused as you are. As humans, we are extremely social creatures and are wired for interaction. As adolescents, we heavily rely on the support from our peers. The online platforms can make interaction challenging, but try to regularly reach out to a friend and drop them a “hi”. It’s always nice to know that we are all here for one another, especially in these tumultuous times. Make use of this support and stay connected.

What To Avoid:

Don’t procrastinate

Ah, the classic #procrastinationnation. Procrastination is a major struggle; it’s all too easy to set a task aside and tell yourself that you’ll get it done later. However, because of our online platform, it can be difficult to retain information and deadlines. It’s surprisingly easy to completely forget about due dates as we no longer have those lifesaving hallway conversations:

“Dude, did you finish the English homework?” 

“THERE WAS HOMEWORK?!”

Make sure to do your work as soon as it’s assigned or update your Google Calendar with upcoming assignments. Along those lines, Google Calendar is an excellent resource for distance learning, allowing you to get email notifications that remind you of your upcoming classes, assignments, due dates, and exams.

Showing up to Zoom in Pajamas

It can be tempting to simply roll out of bed and open Zoom. But first of all, almost all your classmates, and certainly your teacher, would prefer not to see your bedhead and creased pajamas. Get dressed! It was even proven by Northwestern University that employees perform tasks better when wearing an outfit with “symbolic meaning.” The act of getting up and putting a fresh set of clothes can truly make or break your school day.

Students, distance learning is NOT easy. It’s a struggle to sit in front of laptops for upwards of six hours everyday, where once very physical interactions are now reduced to “mute” and “unmute” buttons on an online interface. Don’t be too hard on yourself. After all, we’re the first generation to ever experience going to school during a pandemic, so don’t take yourself for granted. Ask for help and reach out to your friends, family and other loved ones – these are unprecedented times and we all yearn for some semblance of normalcy and social connection. Take breaks and set some time aside to just spend some time with your friends outside of classes.