Career Guidance Counsellor Rory White’s column series continues during the COVID-19 school closures.
As students turn to online learning, Rory has advice on coping with a new normal and making the best of things while this lasts.
The recent and unprecedented outbreak of Covid-19 saw the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announce last Thursday that all schools and colleges will close until Monday March 30th to help support efforts to try and curtail the spread of the virus.
Things are very much up in the air at the moment in relation to the scheduling of the Orals and Practicals for the Leaving Certificate and only time will tell.
One thing is for certain however, this will pass.
Everyone due to do the state exams this year is in the same boat so no one is going to be inconvenienced more than anyone else.
While anxiety among our students is very understandable in these uncertain times, in particular for our Leaving Certificate students, there are thankfully many things that are being done by our schools and teachers in order to try and keep things continuing as smoothly as possible. A generation ago in pre-internet days, (yes, for all of you born in the 21st century, life did exist before Google and social media!) a situation such as this would have more severe repercussions, however there are thankfully now a multitude of online platforms that have already been in use in our schools for the past number of years.
Virtual learning environments such as Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, Edmodo and Schoology will really come into their own over the next few weeks. Teachers can upload class notes and post assignments. Most students should now all have their own school email addresses and accounts and may be able to make contact with their teacher if they need any further direction.
There are a whole range of virtual learning environments in use by our schools:
It is very important that all students continue to carry out the schoolwork set for them by their teachers, and parents will have to play a vital role here in keeping their children engaged. The best advice would be to try and stick to a good routine. Get up at a reasonable time, check into the online class and keep on top of the work assigned. This shouldn’t mean sitting at a desk from 9.00 – 4.00 but the bulk of the work should be attempted during ‘school hours’.
Modern study solutions
Students who are preparing for their Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle exams can also make use of this time to continue their exam preparations. Have a look back at your recent ‘Mock’ papers and work on the areas that you need to improve upon. Students can also make use of a variety of learning tools to help with their study. Youtube is a wonderful resource for both teachers and students. Whether you would like to learn about Quadratic Equations, a World War II battle or how to write a descriptive essay, (or most things in between) you will find a video for it on Youtube, and the beauty of it is that you can watch it again and again until it sinks in!
There are also some excellent (and fun!) online revision options available which students can join for free or subscribe for an enhanced service. Quizlet and Kahoot! are two popular examples that many students are now very familiar with while Studyclix is a one-stop shop for past paper questions which also includes a wide range of sample answers. Many school textbooks have an e-book equivalent that include enhanced features such as videos and interactive quizzes.
Keep things in perspective
While these are strange times and a certain amount of anxiety is normal, try not to become too immersed in the bigger picture. An unfortunate phenomenon of modern life is the huge amount of fake news that has been doing the rounds on social media and chatrooms. This can lead to many of us becoming much too absorbed in the story. Of course it is important to stay informed but (much like a good history student should be!) we should be certain about our sources.
There is a constant stream of reliable advice from the HSE and the WHO. It is now being widely reported that there are good signs from China and that the numbers of cases there are declining. Although this is a new virus, the experts are learning all the time and we will also have learned from the outbreaks in China and Italy.
We should also have faith in our excellent healthcare workers, help them by doing the right thing, follow the official advice and we’ll get through this also.
Students who would like more advice on how best to cope can follow the link below to the website of Jigsaw, the national Youth Mental Health service.
Look for the positives!
As with most things in life there are always silver linings. The fact that we are forced to slow things down is not necessarily a bad thing. Life can be extremely busy at times so the next few weeks could be used to reset. We should all endeavour to get creative with the abundance of time that we will have. We should try and find some ‘flow’ in our lives, this is when we get lost in doing something that we enjoy and perhaps don’t take the time to do when we are on the treadmill of life.
We should take time to read or play music, to get fitter, to walk and enjoy Spring as it finally arrives. Families will have an opportunity to spend more time with each other, to connect, get the boardgames out again! While obviously adhering to the safety precautions, we should try to check in with parents, grandparents and elderly neighbours and be mindful of others. All of this can help create a good head space for us and leave us in a good frame of mind for whenever we return to regular school on the other side of this.
Get lost in the ‘flow’ of reading or walk and take notice of the long awaited arrival of SpringTags: