It’s no secret that the 2021 – 2022 school year will be a challenging one. On the one hand, it may be filled with some of the uncertainties of the last year; on the other hand, it may also bring up new challenges. And the transition back from virtual classrooms to in-person learning may require a shift in perspective and a new commitment to your education goals.
Most high school students will be relieved and excited to be back in classrooms, learning with peers. But some people may feel anxious about going back. It’s important to keep in mind that you are in control—and you can take a positive step by preparing for this shift.
Here are some ideas for how to prepare for in-person learning:
1. Subscribe to the school mailing list, and stay engaged with communications.
It may seem like a straightforward suggestion, but it’s an important one. Communication is key when preparing to go back to in-person learning. Before you even start day 1—make sure that you and your parents or guardians are receiving all communications from the school. And then thoroughly read the information being sent to you to ensure you understand the plans at large. If you have questions, determine early on who is the best person to help you answer them.
2. Attend school events or orientations.
It’s possible that your school may not hold any back-to-school events this fall. But if they do… attend them! It’s a great way to hear firsthand what’s happening at your school. It’s also a good way to see people you know, like school staff and peers, and start getting in the mindset of returning to in-person learning.
3. Start the year by defining your goals.
In-person learning involves interacting with peers, staying organized, and navigating classroom changes, and can be overwhelming. Start by setting smaller, more attainable goals, which can help you kick off the year with energy. You may want to focus your first day on locating your classrooms, learning your teachers’ names, and reconnecting with friends. Planning your first few days will set you up for success in the long term.
4. Make a checklist or two!
You might be a little rusty at rushing out the door in the early morning to get to school. It’s okay—you can prepare yourself by thinking through what you need the night before. First, what items do you need for the school day? Write them down and include any supplies, books, software, and tech tools like your charger. Are you part of any clubs, sports, or after-school groups? Make another checklist for whatever you’ll need after school.
5. Prioritize your mental health and ask for help.
It’s okay to need a break, it’s okay to ask for help, and it’s okay to not feel at your best. Talking with your peers, teachers, coaches, parents, and guardians about what you’re feeling and when can help them better understand your needs and support you. Your teachers, coaches, and mentors are there to assist you; it’s their job to help you grow. Keeping them up to date on how you’re feeling mentally can help them help you. You have shown how resilient you can be by continuing to learn virtually during the pandemic — now is the time, to be honest, and vulnerable, so that you can stay on the path to accomplishing your goals.
6. Get involved and stay involved.
Being present and participating in your classes is important. Set the tone for yourself when you go back by being engaged in classroom discussions from the start. Ask questions, raise your hand, and speak up to add to the discussion when appropriate. This works outside the classroom too–joining clubs and taking on extracurricular opportunities is a great way to stay engaged in school, keep yourself active, and get to know more of your peers.
Are you still curious? Check out these additional resources for further reading.
- For those of you still concerned about distance learning, and how COVID interrupted previous learning models, we have an entire ebook for you called Empowerly’s Guide to Navigating High School During COVID.
- Need more tangible steps to help you wrap your brain around returning to the classroom? Brush up on these foundational skills to help yourself shine:
- Are you someone who just generally isn’t sure how to restart conversations with your mentors after an absence? You’re not alone, either; so go ahead and review this guide on starting a meaningful connection with your guidance counselor.
- In fact, we wrote a whole ebook on our recommendations entitled Empowerly’s Guide to Letters of Recommendation. Because, yep, that’s going to come up soon, too.
- Finally, as you round out your high school career and begin to reassess your goals, I urge you to read through this poignant reflection: 5 Regrets These Students Had From High School. Ultimately, we want to empower your growth as a whole human being.
To learn more about preparing for back to school, connect with an Empowerly team member. Our team of experienced professionals are dedicated to helping students and families prepare for academics after high school. We can help support you too. Reach out to connect with an Empowerly team member today.