I don’t know how many hours I worked the first week back to “online school”, but I know I worked 23 hours in the first two days and 14 on the first day alone.
It was a lot. By the time Friday rolled around I was exhausted. There were two major assignments due on Friday and I could barely form a sentence, let alone string together paragraphs of academic prose. The work got done because it needed to, because deadlines and due dates still exist.
Now, we’re nearing the end of the second week and there’s a weird normalcy about it all.
Everyone recommends separating a place for work and a place for freetime, like don’t do all your homework in bed. I don’t quite have that luxury. There’s no office space or even desk for me to confine myself to focus on work.
I wake up for class and take Loki (our Boston Terrier) outside and then give him breakfast. I go my morning online lectures, have lunch, work on homework. I try to take a break for dinner and then finish any lingering assignments for that day.
But I sit at the dining table for my online lectures, I sit in my sisters bed to do homework (it’s not my bed, I don’t associate hers with relaxing… I think this works..?), I sit on the floor of our sunroom when the weather allows me. I stay out there until my back aches for a chair with a back and a table to lean on.
It’s impossible to tune out all distractions. In my dorm, I could close my door and put in headphones. There’s no door to close here. Sometimes I’ve been wearing headphones for so long that my ears hurt. So I let Loki run around barking and playing, I let my family operate with their noise.
Before when my door was closed it was work-time and my roommate was almost always doing work at the same time. We’d privately seclude ourselves until one of us came to check on the other. We were there to work. That was our job.
School=work. Home=no work. That’s how my brains been thinking for the last three years. And now I have to rework how I associate home. The dining table I play board games and share meals over is now my desk. The sunroom where I do yoga and journal is now a desk. My sister’s bed is a desk.
What’s interesting about this transition is that I never quite understood how much work I was doing. Walking to class doesn’t feel like I’m going to lecture and absorb new information that I will be tested on. It was just class. Where I listened and took notes, asked questions and had discussions. Homework and assignments felt like the bulk of the work.
But now I’m responsible for the entirety of my learning. What if I don’t do the readings? What if I don’t respond to two peers in a discussion board? What if I don’t write a blog? What if I don’t complete the 900 extra assignments I’ve been assigned “now that I have all this free time”?
I am fully bearing the weight of my learning. Completing extra assignments and listening to prerecorded lectures where my professor isn’t readily at hand to answer questions or explain further.
There are strategies and techniques to (attempt to) survive and thrive during this quarantine. Some work, some don’t. Students are bearing a weight that they’ve always shared with schools and educators, but now they have the bulk of the weight.