This Strange School Year

This has been a most odd year for high school students with classes online.

This has been a most odd year for high school students with classes online. Across the globe, consistencies perhaps have been swept aside. We hear stories that grades will reflect last semester, last quarter or will be pass/fail. What does this mean for the future? Regardless of the final GPA, does this mean students can sit back and stop working and worrying? Not at all. 

I spoke with a student the other evening about how well she was coping with staying home and online learning. She said she was never better. Her grades were going to remain the same as last quarter (4.0 plus plus/weighted, IB Candidate.). I was confused, of course. She said she really had no work to do because while her teachers were giving obligatory assignments, her grades would not change. She said she was reading whatever books she wanted all day, turning in minimal assignments, and talking with friends. Life could not be better. I was a bit taken aback, as this is a highly motivated student. She and I had a bit of a chat. We discussed the fact that her performance now may affect outcomes at a later date. It is important for her to maintain the consistent work ethic she had before online/homeschooling. I reminded her that any assessments now could affect her future. In addition, any lack of work exhibited by her could be reflected in Letters of Recommendation. 

I reflect on an IB student from several years ago who has since graduated from a high profile university in the UK. Had he been making an application this year, this would not have been the year for him. Because the IBO is asking for Internal Assessments (IA) from schools that are substitutions for IB exams, his IAs may have been subpar. This IB student counted on his IB exams to pull him through to the very end, and indeed they did. Don’t get me wrong, this student was wildly brilliant, he did not need the smaller assignments and assessments to string him along to the end, but, in the case of today’s issue, he would have needed to be a top notch student with all of his Internal Assessments. 

Students need to remember that despite the fact that the curriculum may look a bit different from face to face classroom, and perhaps there is not as much content as there would have been in face to face interaction, this course work, this homework is the scaffolding for success in future classes. In addition, for those International Baccalaureate students, with major changes with Internal Assessments (IA), stay on top of all studies. Students counting on the outcome of the IB exams to gain entrance to university this year, those IA assignments/assessments are of utmost importance. For students who participate in a variety of other curriculum – US, AP,  A Levels, GCSE, etc. following through on assignments will be paramount for a variety of reasons. Teachers Letters of Recommendations may address how well students kept up with school obligations and stressors during the time of online learning and beyond. 

Online learning obviously is not the same as classroom interactions, but set up study groups with their classmates, reach out to their teachers, and remain an active participant. While perhaps you don’t have the ability to carry on with t normal after school activities,find something stimulating other than Netflix (though writing movie reviews might be a great literary option). There will certainly be one outcome for everyone… Each student will become a Zoom expert which will be grand on a student resume. But, there is more that needs to be done. Make sure your neighbors have enough to eat, tutor younger students, read aloud to younger students, help those parents who are having a tough time with the virtual platform gain access (of course, all virtually). Use your talents to help others- can you teach any musical instrument online?  Take time to thank those who we often take for granted: postal delivery, grocery store workers in some way shape or form. In addition, be physically active to maintain good physical condition. 

These efforts will only have positive outcomes in the end when it comes reaching out for Letters of Recommendation which will include how the student reacted and remained nimble and flexible in this most unusual era.  Just make sure, whatever you do in a volunteer sense, do it because it is genuine and from the heart. 

All in all: keep up with school work, volunteer from the heart, stay healthy and try to maintain a well balanced lifestyle.

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