So, we’re back. It’s a strange thought in retrospect; we were all here last year, still in school, still communicating with each other, still meeting deadlines, and a decent portion, myself included, still lived on campus. How can we be “back” if we never left? Well, now we’re back in person. We’ve restored the physical connection to school that I find is required for effective learning. Some students and faculty weren’t too distracted by the switch to online classes and found the whole situation an inconvenience at best. Some discovered they more enjoy the online setup and the greater comfort and freedom of school at home.
But some, like me, felt as though they were thrown into a deep, dark hole where nothing made sense, and what was once easy became impossible. I cannot overstate enough my joy to return to the classroom. I feel as though I’m seeing sunlight again for the first time. I plan to cherish every minute of it to the best of our ability. But how exactly do we go about it?
Most of us are out of practice, to say the least, regarding effective classroom practice. So, for this week, I’ve outlined three ideas to keep in mind as we return the classroom and as the world at large, hopefully, returns to normal.
First, mind your appearance. Gone are the days of rolling out of bed five minutes before a class to join the meeting and then sleep through it in your pajamas. Instead, wake up an hour before class and take it slow. Check your phone, put on a pot of coffee. Brush or comb your hair, throw some cold water on your face. Put on some clean clothes and brush your teeth. Shave if you need to. Maybe put on some makeup if you want. When you walk into class, not only will your peers and professors immediately understand how much class matters to you, but you will find class more meaningful because you’ve made it so by preparing for it.
By spending more than a minute getting ready in the morning, you add value to the tasks you attack that day. That’s quite literally the point of dressing up for anything and is one of the ubiquitous elements of human culture: dress to impress. Though you don’t need a tuxedo, you should want to look presentable in class. Try to look as though you didn’t just roll out of bed, and class will become easier and more rewarding. Look great, do great.
Secondly, mind your attitude. All the clothing and makeup in the world won’t help you if you’re unengaged. I personally was checked out all last year. I couldn’t stand the format of online classes and I stopped caring. I didn’t have the resources, nor the accommodations I felt I needed, so I thought there was no need to try. But now that professors are back in their offices and student resources are up and running, there is no longer any such excuse. There’s never been a better time to rethink how you use the resources available to you as a student than right after you get them back. If you need or want help, be it four day a week tutoring or clearing up a deadline, ask for it. It will not find you.
Finally, try to find some balance. Everything I’ve touched on thus far has only been regarding classes, but there’s so much more than that now. Clubs are back in business, sports have come back, our friends have returned to campus, and if the weather this week has been any indication, it will be a very pleasant Fall semester.
Don’t misunderstand my words; education and professionalism is the reason we’re all here, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop and smell the roses. This year, go out into the greater Rowan community and fill out your time with something more than classwork and resting. Join a club, learn an instrument, hang out with your friends on campus and get involved. We don’t know what will be available in the future or where the true path that this pandemic is taking us, so I implore you to make your time worthwhile.
What’s life for if not for living?
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