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To Be A Successful Remote Learner, You Need To Sit In The “Front Row”!

Research shows that successful students choose to sit in the front row of a classroom. But is it possible to sit in the front row when you are learning remotely? Absolutely! You just need to take on the mindset that you are going to act as if you were sitting in the front row, even if you are actually sitting at your kitchen table. Read on to learn the strategies that front row learners use that set them up for academic success:  

1. Create a study environment that supports academic success 

Front row remote students think of their online classes as if they are in-person classes. When class starts, they are present both in mind and body, and ready to work! This mindset can be created by making a work area that is quiet, organized, and distraction free. Let your family know your class schedule and ask them to not disturb you when you are in class. And turn off your phone! You would never check Instagram while sitting in the front of a classroom so don’t allow yourself to do so when you are in a remote class. 

2. Engage with your professor 

Enter the remote classroom on-time and make sure you look at your professor, just like you would do if you are in person. You wouldn’t have a snack while sitting in the front row so avoid eating during class at home! And really engage with your professor: raise your hand, ask questions, visit remote office hours, or send an email after the class with follow up questions. Show the teacher that you really like the class and you are excited about the material.

3. Take notes – by hand! 

 Research shows that taking notes by hand helps you learn the material in a deeper manner than if you take notes on your computer. A helpful note-taking technique is called, “two column notes.” For this style of note-taking, you fold your notebook paper length-wise, and only write on the right side of the page. Later, when you review your notes, transfer the main ideas from the right side of the page to the left side in short, bullet points. When preparing for an exam, first you review all of your notes on the right side, then cover up the right side and use your left side bullet points to test yourself on the material.  

And two strategies for students with dysgraphia: First, try taking notes on your computer during the lecture, and then writing out your notes from your typed notes when you are not under a time pressure. Second, try taking notes on your computer, then print your notes and cut them into flashcards. Very clever! 

4. Use Time Management Techniques 

Find a calendar system that works for you and use it daily. Many students find that using their phone’s calendar app is convenient and effective as their phone is always nearby. Some students also like to use a large wall calendar with exams dates and project due dates as a strong visual reminder. An important strategy is to input all important dates into your calendar as soon as you receive your syllabus. And remember, a calendar system only works if you check it daily! 

An excellent time management technique is prioritizing tasks. One method is to start with the easiest tasks to get them out of the way, and then focus on your more challenging assignments. Or, if that sounds too stressful, start with the most challenging task first and leave the easier ones for last as a reward-like way to end on a high note! 

It is important to be realistic with your time. Make sure you have sufficient down time to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed. It’s a good idea to take frequent study breaks and go for a walk to get fresh air. 

Another good  strategy is to create a to-do list on Sunday evenings that you can refer to every morning and at the end of each school day. On Friday afternoons, review your calendar and give yourself credit for all that you accomplished. You deserve to treat yourself well! 

5. Connect with the other students in your classes 

Take advantage of any opportunity to interact with your virtual classmates. Take a risk and reach out to someone who seems friendly to ask if they would like to review the material or study for a test together. Research shows that students who feel they are a part of a learning community tend to perform better than those who feel isolated and on their own. 

6. And most important: Front Row Students Ask For Help! 

 It is perfectly fine to ask for assistance! No one expects students to have all the answers (even the professors don’t have ALL of the answers!). Schools want their students to succeed and that is why there are many places on campus to go for in-person and virtual support. You can go to your school’s office of disabilities to request accommodations, go to the study center to work with a tutor, or schedule sessions with a Life Skills Coach to learn time management skills and learn how to practice self-care to lower your stress and anxiety. Front row students know it takes strength to ask for help!  

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services? She can be reached at jrochman@thehelpgroup.org.

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