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Finding The Right Path to Success in Online Learning

(This article was originally published in the November 2020 Paper Jam; authored by: Laura H., Kristin S., Anali J., Hannah L., and Hannah K.)

This article is themed around The Wizard of Oz.

As tutors and students, we have had to adapt to working and learning in an online environment. The students with whom we work may not be as prepared or as motivated to succeed in this new environment.

So what can we do to help them have courage, be passionate, find wisdom, and gain confidence?

Tutors from the Reading and Writing Center, the Learning Center, and the Math Center dedicate themselves to helping students learn and achieve their academic goals by providing students with encouragement and support. For those of us who are embedded in classes with instructors and students, we do our best to provide in-class assistance either through Zoom or via Canvas as well as providing group tutoring and one-on-one appointments.

Here's How to Find the Courage to Ask for Help!

Courage has a strong correlation to motivation, self-image, and drive to succeed in life. Sometimes, all you need is a little push - the inertia - to start the ball rolling.

#1: Remind yourself why you started

Ask yourself what your future self would say: "Did I do my best? Did I explore and exhaust every single viable option that is within my grasp and sight? What is the point of all this?"

#2: Find your purpose

Even if you're still tentative in your plans, make the effort. Now. Not tomorrow. Now. A little goes a long way. What excites you? What gets you up in the morning? What challenges do you seek in life? What fulfills you and satisfies you no matter how tired or bored you are? What is your passion? And if you are still figuring it out, then have hope that you know where your strengths and weaknesses lie. No rush, but no dilly-dallying either.

#3: The bridge to success

Tutors and tutees must connect with each other with trust and empathy. Connect with instructors often. If the tutee is reluctant, then offer as mediator. Advocate for group tutoring. If the tutee is in need of significant help about real-life situations, ask the instructor and counselor if need be.

Finding the Passion to Continue Our Education

With all of the challenges that we are facing these days, it can sometimes be difficult to stay motivated to continue our education, so here are some things that you can do to maintain your passion.

#1: I recommend that you keep things around your workstation that remind you of why finishing your degree is important to you. Even if your workspace is the dining room table, and you are not able to keep much around, you can keep an inspirational background on your computer. Having these reminders around you on a daily basis will help you maintain your motivation and help you get through the rough times.

#2: Since virtual learning has made it difficult to engage in social interactions, you need to find ways to maintain a connection with your instructors, tutors, and peers. A great way to do this is by keeping your cameras on during your synchronous class and tutoring sessions. It may sound as if turning your camera on is insignificant, but it can have a positive impact on the way that you interact with others during these difficult times.

#3: Another way to maintain great communication between instructors and students is to find ways to connect outside of the synchronous meetings. I highly recommend that students reach out to their instructors during their office hours. Instructors can facilitate these interactions by sending their students positive emails frequently. This will help students feel more comfortable with reaching out to their professors.

Finding the Wisdom to Succeed

Although, unlike the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, we already have brains, there are still many things we can do to increase our understanding and help ourselves learn a little better when it comes to our academics. This is especially true because of our current situation, where learning may feel ten times more difficult than it used to face-to-face. Here are some tips to help you find the wisdom to succeed in your classes and make it through this pandemic with passing grades.

#1: Remember You're Not Perfect

Even though we have made it this far in school, that doesn't mean we're perfect academically, and there's always room to grow. Remind yourself every so often that not only is it okay not to be perfect, but it's also okay to ask for help when you need it, and there's nothing wrong with receiving help from a tutor, a teacher, another student, or anyone else for that matter.

#2: Stay Updated

Although in your secondary years of school you may have learned the basics of English, science, math, and history, as the years go by, it's easy to forget a lot of the information we learned. Looking at old notes or online guides about what you've already learned can help you remember things you otherwise wouldn't have known, therefore increasing your ability to understand in your classes.

#3: Read, Read, Read!

Not only does reading have proven health benefits, it can strengthen your writing skills and help you learn more. You don't have to read a 400-page book or anything, but reading scholarly articles such as articles on history and science, as well as other school subjects, can boost your knowledge and even be fun if you're interested in the topic you're reading about.

Finding the Confidence to Stay Connected in Three Steps

#1: Keep up-to-date with coursework

When we're all at home, it's easy for life to get in the way of schoolwork. Setting up a calendar to remind you of classwork can be a valuable tool to help stay motivated. Setting reminders to check Canvas and your school email will help you keep up-to-date with assignments. Ultimately, a calendar will ensure you have plenty of time to complete the assigned work, help stop procrastination, and be confident in upcoming assignments.

#2: Ask for help

When you don't meet face-to-face, isolation can inhibit college students from reaching out for help, so asking a lot of questions is one of the essential skills to learn in an online course. Instructor's office hours are an excellent way to ask questions and get extra help. Also, visiting one of Reedley College's many tutoring services can provide you with extra one-on-one support. Asking for help will ensure you remain confident in your coursework and give you positive affirmation that you are moving in the right direction.

#3: Go the extra mile

With everyone at home, slacking off is at an all-time high, so going the extra mile for coursework is essential. Working hard and completing extra credit work will give you a buffer in your grade to prevent stress, early, drops, and provide the confidence you need to succeed in class.

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