For many students the start of this schoolyear will be the first time in a while that they have set foot inside a classroom that did not double as their bedroom/living/dining room. It can feel a little like starting at a new school (or may be exactly like that if you’ve changed schools during the pandemic). So, a lot of parents and students are asking and trying to remember what it is like when students are physically present in a classroom instead of an online one. To give students and parents a starting point, we’ve compiled a quick review of some of the things to be aware of that are very different between a physical and an online classroom.

1. Students must be quiet in a classroom when the teacher is teaching (turning your microphone off is no longer an option). This one seems pretty self-evident, but it needs to be said. You will need to get back into the habit of paying attention to your teacher and not on talking with those around you.

2. Students cannot hide what they are doing (you cannot turn your camera off anymore). Just because you could get away with texting your friends or playing a video game while the teacher was teaching online, does not mean you will be able to do so in person.

3. Most schools have a dress code that needs to be adhered to, or you might be sent home (just turning your camera on for a quick attendance check in your PJs is no longer acceptable). Some schools have a uniform that will need to be dusted off and used again. If you are not sure whether something is acceptable attire, you can ask your teacher, friend, etc. or err on the side of caution and wear something else that does not raise those questions. 

4. Do not expect that all teachers will cut you some slack because you did not finish something during the lockdowns (most teachers will provide a mini lesson to help everyone be on the same page, but not all of them will). If you need to learn something, it is on you to do so, not on the teacher to teach you if it should already have been taught. This might be especially true if you are going to a new school or starting your post-secondary studies.

Helpful Hint

Office hours/peer/private tutoring can be a great resource to help students catch up.

5. Remember to wake up on time (waking up a couple of minutes before your classes start is no longer an option). This is probably a point that everyone is guilty of, but unless you live right next door to the school (and even then), this is something that is drastically different from online lessons.

6.Remember to print out your work (if you need to submit a physical copy). Some teachers prefer to mark on a paper copy and may ask that you submit it as such. Remember to ask for clarification if you are not sure how an assignment should be handed in.

7. Take your assigned homework seriously. Some teachers will ask the class to hand in their homework for marking. This is much easier to do when they can walk around the class and collect it than when they need to ask you to hand it in online.

8. Take your assignments that you need to hand in seriously. “My internet was not working” is not an excuse to not submit a physical copy of an assignment.

9. Remember, lunch is no longer a walk to the fridge/trip to the store/ordering in whenever you get hungry. Schools generally have a set time when they allow students to go on a lunch break. Some teachers will not allow you to eat in their classroom, so eating when you’re hungry is not an easy fix. Be aware of when that time is and try to time your hunger to that time (if at all possible). 

10. If you have a question, put your hand up to not interrupt the class. It might have been acceptable during online lessons, but it likely will not be appreciated in any setting when you are physically in class.

11. Make sure to pack your bag the evening before. You will no longer have the luxury of having everything you need around you.

Though not an exhaustive list of tips on how to return to in-person schooling, it is a good starting point. Like many things, change will take time and there will be moments when you return to the “online mentality” of work. If you keep working at it, and keep correcting the behaviour, eventually, it will become second nature. Though most students will have negative views of returning to in-person lessons, there are also many positives, like seeing friends who might live too far away to see regularly. Schools, though places of learning are also places for students to socialize and hone their social skills with their peers, something that was not always possible during the many months of lockdowns and online learning.



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