Remote Learning – Student Perspective: New Stress & New Opportunities

As distance learning becomes the norm, students and teachers are finding ways to adjust and adapt. Our remote learning stories illustrate how this has been a time of challenge for everyone, especially students with learning differences such as ADHD or dyslexia. Strategies for learning from your mistakes are critical; however, new approaches to learning can also provide some unexpected opportunities.

Below our middle school correspondent describes a day that started out on the wrong foot but before the day was over, she tried something she wouldn’t have been open to before.

I went to my desk, and I realized my computer was having some technical difficulties. I immediately freaked out! I’m supposed to be on a video call with my teachers at 9:00 and it was 8:59. My teachers are so strict and give us so much grief if we’re not on time. I just started breaking down. Eventually my computer connected to the internet at 9:05, and I didn’t get in trouble because a lot of people were also late.  

When students are working on their own and face an unexpected obstacle, there is a risk that they will simply shut down. While it is good that this student knows her teachers have high expectations for her, the stress of being late almost ruined the day before it began.

Teachers can help students by modeling how they cope with the obstacles they face. (After all, who hasn’t gotten into a fight with their internet over the past few months?) Normalize tech problems and make it clear to students that, while we still have high expectations for their work, we understand that life doesn’t always work out the way we expect.

Luckily our student reporter persevered and was able to carry on with her day.

After lunch I had arts/project time. This was the first time I picked something I wasn’t sure how to do. I did a natural music making project where you go outside and record sounds and use a music software like Garage Band to put the sounds together and make a beat. Overall, I liked it. I think I was more comfortable doing something new at home than at school in front of a lot of kids.

I love this example! Project-based learning can be very challenging. This project is fairly involved; the student has to know how to both record sounds and mix them together using software. She also has to be creative about selecting sounds that will be interesting together. Projects that require creativity and practicing new skills can be nerve wracking to attempt in front of your peers. In this case, learning at home provided the student with the space to be confident about trying something new.

I hope by now you have found your own strategies to be resilient and creative during this challenging time. If you’re looking for ideas, check out these Zoom tools to promote executive function or a few best practices from our collaboration with Google.

  • Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMARTS Director