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Back to School Season (?)

The past six months have been nothing short of taxing on all frontspolitically, socially, physically, economically. As a nation, we’ve witnessed both the triumphs and horrors we are capable of in times of distress. We have opened up dialogues that were long overlooked or hushed. Even amid this progress, we’ve taken several missteps in uniting as a country, compromising the health of millions.

This has raised questions if sending children back into the classroom this fall is the right decision. Schools that are now in session have already met their match with the virus sending students and faculty alike home to quarantine. Some schools have shut down after only one week, and in some cases... one day.

Regardless of the medium of your instruction, whether that be remote, in-class, or hybrid learning, starting a new school year is always a transition, equal parts challenging and exciting. In this article, I’d like to offer words of encouragement and even advice, especially to those doing remote learning, to get you through this unconventional time.

First off, I’m going through this with you. I am currently a sophomore at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. My institution has made the decision to conduct 100% remote learning. The transition to remote instruction hasn’t been a completely smooth road for me, the more reason to share tips based on my experience for you!

  • Set Your Intentions for the Week

The biggest challenge for me when I was completing the remainder of the spring semester online was creating a structure to operate. This lack of ritual became unmotivating, numbing, and challenging to organize events. To combat this, setting weekly or even daily goals helps to lend direction to your day.

(Tip: Ask a friend to do this activity with you! When involving someone you know and trust, you can each hold each other accountable, serving as a boost of motivation.)

  • Change of Scenery

When your room is your bedroom, classroom, study room, and break room, you can exhaust the energy of your space and feel trapped within those four walls. If your living space allows, try to switch settings for different classes. If your living space doesn’t permit it, ask your family if you can go to a nearby park to study or to take class somedays.

  • Start a Group Chat!

Similar to your room, technology has become a source of learning, studying, meeting, working, creating, entertaining, and more. Having our world exist on the world wide web can be a headache at times. Even before remote learning became the norm, most of us can agree class group chats have kept us in check. Creating class group chats can alleviate some pressure if there’s an assignment, an announcement, or even a concept you missed or misunderstood in class. It is another system for accountability, making sure your fellow classmates aren’t falling behind.

  • Do One Thing At A Time

Honestly, this one’s a note to self. I still find myself struggling with this, getting overwhelmed when my focus is split. Nothing is achieved by doing a little bit of everything but not finishing anything at all.

(Tip: Make lists! Next to my bed, I have a list of sticky notes with tasks on the side of my desk. It’s a great way to visualize what needs to be done and makes the load feel more manageable. Sticky notes are an efficient way to tackle your daily tasks and not to mention satisfying! The feeling of ripping off a sticky note is indescribable, you’ve gotta try it for yourself.)

  • Self-care day!

To avoid slipping into any sort of numbness, shake up your routine by inserting some ‘you’ time into your schedule. Dedicate a day, or even just an hour or two, to doing something that serves you. That can be exercising, painting, reading, writing, or even squeezing a good nap in. Checking in on ourselves is the most important factor in getting through all of this. We have to be our own best friends by treating ourselves accordingly.

All of this said, this school year won’t be an easy one. Many of us are facing more transitions than one, from entering a pivotal grade level, to closing chapters of their education, to simply struggling in school settings. In whatever case, know that everything you are feeling is okay. You may be knocked down some days, but the important thing is not staying down. You are capable of so much more than you know. You are not alone. There is support all around youyour family, your friends, and if no one else, just know that I’m rooting for you.

I want to give a quick shout out to the educators, parents, and mentors who are all dedicating their time to play a role in our growth. I’m sending each of you who are reading this the warmest energy.

We’ve got this! Happy learning!

Peace & Blessings,

Kaiya Nyasha

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