On-Task, Online

How Garfield students are staying focused in online school.


Art By Ria Maisano-Torres

Nothing about this year has been normal, and school is no exception. Amidst endless technology issues, lack of motivation, and feelings of isolation, Garfield students have a lot going against them when trying to stay on-task and focused.

Phones are a major contributor to student distraction. At school, while the cell phone policy is enforced with varying levels of success, most teachers make an effort to ask students to put away their phones. This year, that redirection is much harder. 

“There is no teacher forcing me to get off my phone,” said junior Pearl Rosen.

Sophomore Adham Kolokythas agreed: “My main barrier [to staying focused] is probably my phone. I end up just talking to people rather than listening and I get behind.”

For senior Jorre Dahl, it’s “watching too much TikTok or YouTube.”

Sitting by ourselves and staring at a screen all day is distracting, but it’s also downright lonely. How does not being around peers and teachers influence learning? “No one is there to hold you accountable so my mind can wander off somewhere and I won’t even notice until class is over,” Rosen said. “The lack of in person support is my main barrier that’s keeping me from staying focused.”

As the end of the first quarter nears, students start to figure out what works for them. Everyone has their own path to success, but here are some tips Garfield students are using to stay focused and motivated this year. 

Have a system for remembering assignments. Teachers use many different platforms to give homework and having one place to keep track of due dates makes everything easier. 

“The main thing that helps me stay on task is having a planner that I use very often,” said Rosen. “I love the feeling of checking off tasks I set for myself so much that I will work just to gain that feeling of accomplishment. Sometimes the way my teachers organize things is confusing for me so the planner helps me to take charge of the work and organize it the way that works best for me.”

Take advantage of time teachers put aside to help students. For junior Teja Zeribi, “breakout rooms and office hours where you can come in and work” create designated time and space for students to complete their assignments.

Get invested in your classes. “Try and get interested in the work that you’re doing, that way it’s much harder to become distracted or unmotivated,” suggested Dahl.

Motivation is in short supply for many students, but keeping up in class is crucial. “Don’t let yourself fall behind. It’s worth the work. You’ll be proud of yourself,” Kolokythas said.