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Creating a Productive Home Study Area

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During the time of Covid-19 and remote learning, having an effective home study space has never been more important for your child’s academic success. Even after the school district moves to a hybrid model on October 15th, with students returning to their classrooms for part of the week, students will still be attending class virtually three days a week.

With that in mind we have put together a list of things you can do to create a productive study space at home.

 

Have a Designated Study Area

 It is beneficial to your student if you have an area in your house set aside specifically as the place your student goes when he or she logs onto their device and attends class virtually. Having a specific study area will help keep that area clutter- and distraction-free.

The study area should be at a desk or table. Sitting at the desk or table will help your student pay attention, stay engaged and stay on task. Try to avoid letting your student attend virtual classes while sitting on a couch or while lying in bed. This promotes laziness and leads to inattention. A student may have a tendency to fall asleep if they attend their virtual class while lying in bed, or leaning back on a couch.

The study area should be quiet, spacious enough to contain the computer device and study items such as pens, notebooks, rulers, etc., without feeling cramped.

Try to set the study area off from the rest of the house. If your child has their own room, you can turn part of it into their study area. If your student’s study area is in their room, check in on them from time to time to ensure they’re at their desk, and participating in the virtual classroom.

If you set up the study area in a room in the house that is shared space, try to enclose the space with furniture, plants or portable walls.

The study area should have ample, comfortable lighting.

 It’s okay to let your student personalize their study. Allow them to have fun items in your study area such as posters, artwork, banners and plants.

   

Keep Your Study Area Clean and Clutter Free

The study area should have its own small waste basket.

As part of the preparation routine, empty the wastebasket at the end of each day.

 

Prepare for Class Ahead of Time

Have your student take a few minutes before his or her class begins to get it ready. Have them clean it, and organize their study supplies.

Fill a water bottle ahead of time so they won’t have to leave to get a drink in the middle of class.

It’s okay to have a few snacks available. Try to avoid snacks that are messy.

 

Remove Distractions from the Study Area

The study area should contain no toys. Your child’s phone should be kept in a separate room so they’re not tempted to look at it. Only have open tabs on your device needed for the classroom.

If the area around your child’s study area is too noisy, have them use headphones during class time to block the outside noise.

Other family members need to be mindful of the student and not make the surrounding environment too noisy, too busy or too chaotic. Remind the family members to be respectful of the student’s space and time.

 

Dress for Success

Since you’re attending class on-line, it may not seem important or necessary to get dressed up. But studies show that students who dress as if they’re attending in-person school, treat the virtual classroom experience more seriously, and makes them feel prepared and ready for the day. This should also include attire that won’t be seen on the monitor, i.e. pants, shoes and socks.

 

Stay Organized

Find a method that works for your student to help him or her stay on task and keep track of their assignments. Have a list of their classes and what days and times are taught. Keep a to-do list.

Some students do better with traditional paper calendars and planners, while others do better with an online planner, such as Google Calendar, Google Docs, etc.

As a parent, check in with your student regularly to determine if they’re turning in their assignments, completing their tests and participating in class. PowerSchool, which is used by PUSD schools, has several tools for parents to track all of the above and more.

 

Create a Routine and Stick to It

Creating and maintaining a daily routine is a great tool for helping your child stay organized and focused. Wake up at the same time every day. Eat breakfast, brush your teeth, and take a shower if that’s a part of your normal morning routine.

In the afternoon or evening, have designated times to do your homework.

Going to bed at the same time every night will set up the following day to begin successfully.

 

Leave

One great advantage of in-person learning is that your student can leave it at the end of the day. Even though your child may have homework to do when they get home, attending in-person school helps create a healthy school/life balance. When attending school virtually from you home, attaining that school/life balance is harder.

Another advantage of having a separate and designated home study area is that it is easier to find that school/life balance. When classes are done, have your child go outside and play, or engage with family members in an activity and in an area outside the home study area.

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Meet Manson Mesa Principal, Trina Hubbell

    Trina Hubbell is the new principal at Manson Mesa High School, taking over for Mary Stahl who became the new principal at Desert View Intermediate.

    Hubbell will also serve as the principal for the Sage and Sand Virtual Academy.

    Hubbell grew up in Kayenta, Ariz., where her parents were educators. Her mother grew up in the LeChee/Coppermine area, and her father is from Black Mesa. She has spent most of her career as a teacher and administrator at schools on the Navajo Reservation.

    Hubbell began her teaching career at Ganado as a high school social studies teacher, a position she held for the first five years of her career. She then taught social studies at Tuba City High School for 13 years. She then moved into administration becoming the principal at Chinle Junior High School. Most recently, Hubbell served as the principal at Pinon Elementary School for two years.

    Hubbell moved from teaching to administration because she felt her school lacked strong leadership, and the decisions being made on behalf of the students and teachers were being made behind closed doors with little or no input from the teachers.

    “We moved into Beyond Textbooks at Tuba City, but there was no assistance, no direction from our administrators,” she said. “A teacher always wants to get the most out of teaching, and learning from our students, but without support from above it was a struggle.”

    She saw directly how such a lack of leadership and support led to less teacher innovation and collaboration. New ideas presented by the teaching staff never gained traction. Teacher morale slipped, and ultimately the achievement, education, success and grades of the students stagnated and declined. During her 18 years as a teacher, she had repeatedly witnessed how a dedicated, encouraging teacher could have a big, positive impact on the students in her class. She calculated that a dedicated, supportive, innovative administrator could have a similar positive impact on a school’s teachers, and ultimately, student education and achievement would rise accordingly.

    “That was the reason I stepped into administration: to be able to provide affective instruction for teachers, for the benefit of the students,” she said.

    One of Hubbells’ greatest strengths—and one she hopes to incorporate at Manson Mesa, and Sage and Sand—is successfully implementing new systems.

    As the principal at Pinyon Elementary School, Hubbell became very involved implementing Beyond Textbooks into her school’s curriculum, embedding the data analysis into the PLCs, and embedding PLCs into what teachers were doing on a daily basis using Reteach and Enrich models into our daily schedule.

    “Prior to that, they were having conversations at a school level that were irrelevant to what we were trying to accomplish,” she said. “This moved the entire school in the same direction. This gave us focus. Once we were able to get focus, we immediately dived into lesson planning and processes provided by Beyond Textbooks, then analyzing our processes and providing our assessments.”

    Implementing the new teaching methodologies was met by a lot of resistance, Hubbell said. “They weren’t accustomed to being held accountable to a process.”

    But once the system was in place, the school saw great success. “We were able to move test scores in one year,” she said. “The school went from a D letter grade to a C letter grade in one year. As long as the systems are in place, and tightening up some of the infrastructure, you can start moving test scores in a year.”

    Because of Hubbell’s expertise in introducing and successfully implementing new systems, she was the natural choice when the district began looking at opening its own virtual academy.

    At the time last spring when Hubbell accepted her position with Manson Mesa, the school district also asked her if she’d be willing to be the principal of a virtual academy, if Covid-19 made such a school necessary. Hubbell accepted the new challenge, feeling such a challenge readily aligned with her skill sets.

    “I knew I was able to build systems, however it really is difficult when you don’t have models available,” she said.

    Hubbell and Supt. Larry Wallen looked at education models from online schools to see what made them successful.

    “The models we looked at had been operating for years,” said Hubbell. “The big question for us was, `How do we start?’ It’s been interesting and exciting, working through it.”

 

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Manson Mesa is an alternative school whose mission is to create a small individualized learning environment to support students behind in credits.

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