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Five Tips for Navigating the 2020-2021 School Year


ABSTRACT: My summer school experience inspired this blog post. Summer school was not easy, and I don’t expect fall semester to be either. However, from the words of Black poet, Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise” .





Hey everyone! I hope all my school-goers had a great first week of the 2020-2021 school year.

September marks seven months into the pandemic and I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a year for the history books—especially when we talk about the education system. All of our school-going careers, we were conditioned to learn in a physical environment, and it all changed in an instant. I am positive that quite a few of us are anxious about what is to come with courses moving online!

The abrupt transition towards remote/online learning has been—well in my case—interesting to say the least. This past May, I completed summer school remotely and, adjusting to an exclusively online learning environment took some time getting to! A lot more discipline!

Us summer school students were sort of test dummies for what remote learning will look in the future. There were positives and negatives that came with it, but I survived—thrived actually! Not only that, I learned some valuable tips that I am bringing for the Fall semester. Here are five tips that were useful during remote learning and that might help you as well!


Renee Shian's Summer School Profile:

I enrolled in 3 summer courses, from May until August.


1st course duration: 4 weeks


2nd course duration: 7 weeks


3rd course duration: 12 weeks



You can imagine how rough those 4 months were for me!




Tips for Remote Learning:


Create a Group Chat

During summer school, having group chats for my courses helped tremendously for many reasons. First, we were all going through it together. Attending university during a pandemic, is an experience unique to us and the group chat was our safe place. Moreover, in some courses, a group chat allowed us to divide and conquer together certain parts of the course syllabus (e.g. weekly quizzes, notes for lectures, readings). Not everyone will have a stable connection for all Zoom meetings and/or have other requirements that might keep them from class. The chat assured that everyone wasn’t left behind which is more to say than how we might feel outside of class.


For my group chats, we used WhatsApp.


Use a Planner; Be Accountable

With education, working from home and your social life confined to the realms of online, juggling them accordingly was tricky. My planner improved my organization skills and prioritizing how I get tasks completed. Organizing my monthly AND weekly schedule in advance helped by allowing my mind to stop racing all over, focus on what I should do each day, while being on top of future deadlines.

Planner tip:

Use different colour markers/pens for different categories of your monthly endeavours (e.g., red for class meetings, green for assignments). Synchronizing your monthly schedule with your phone or computer to take that extra step being on top of things!


On top of using my planner, I use "Calendar" from my Mac and iPhone


Make Sure to Have Time off the Screen—All Screens

Building on from the last point, with all aspects of your work, social and education life online, screen time increased by a lot. Three hours Zoom classes, social media—everything was online. Because of that, online overconsumption can lead to individuals mentally, physically and emotionally burnt out. Not only that, current events surrounding COVID-19 and social movements, made me want to indulge into the screen even more.

I encourage you, to turn off the screen when needed and take time to protect your well-being. Find activities that do not require using a screen or any online presence. For myself, exercising, walking, reading and sleeping were my go-to activities! Prioritize that time away when necessary.


Smiling after a sweaty workout!


Connect with your Professors

Out of all the years I've studied at York University, summer school was the only time where I made connections with my professors. It's important to reach out to our professors, well because at the end of the day they are marking your assignments—LOL! Take use of those office hours to connect with your professor, ask for feedback, questions, or just to get acquainted. Professors are in a similar boat as us when it comes to this shift to remote learning during a pandemic. It doesn't hurt to check in on them as well.



Zoom is the new Office hours!


Ask for Extensions

My last point is one that I firmly stand by! If you do not feel comfortable that you’ll be able to adequately complete an assignment to the best of your capabilities in a given deadline or have several other assignments/commitments in one-time frame, ask for an extension! Do not be afraid to email your professor asking for an extension, most times they will give it to you. I can attest that professors are more lenient when it comes to deadlines even more so now due to the stress of adapting to an imperfect remote learning.

Note: ask your professor what their policy is on asking for extension beforehand!




Final Thoughts

If you’re in-class, online and/or remote learning, these tips should assist you with the new school year. Remember, we’re all in this together; do not be afraid to reach out to a trusted person! I wish everyone success and peace of mind the next few months! Take Care!


I hope y'all enjoyed this post! Let me know in the comments below what tips you think are helpful and plan on using this semester! Like, Comment and Share with others. I’ll see you on the next post!



© 2020 by I AM RENEE SHIAN.

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