Urban Student’s Motivation During Quarantine

Several weeks into Virtual Urban, many students are struggling to find motivation during the school day, whether it is completing homework assignments or studying for tests. Students have expressed that their classes are boring without the commotion of people talking over one another or laughing at jokes that the teacher makes.
The Urban School, being very academically rigorous, prides itself on its community spirit that pushes its students to be their best selves inside and outside of the classroom. But as community spirit runs low during this shelter-in-place period, students find themselves missing the in-person engagement they typically receive from their teachers and peers to get them through each day.
Olivia Mundy ‘21 said, “Urban works because of the balance we have between really challenging work and the energy both students and teachers bring to classes… [However,] taking school online strips away all of that enjoyable stuff and leaves us with all the work that we still need to get done, and I’m really challenged by motivating myself to do the work without the reward of physical class time.”
Much of the motivation students used to have comes from teachers in particular. Sofia Marquez-Gomez ‘21 said, “without having to see teachers face to face there isn’t the pressure to turn things in.” It has become increasingly clear that this may affect some students’ academics beyond just spring trimester.
Marquez-Gomez continued, “knowing that there isn’t much pressure to turn things in for certain classes such as functions, my work ethic will have an impact on next year’s academics.”
Lizzy Hayashi ‘20 said, “There’s also no one holding me accountable like my teachers or peers so it’s easy for me to justify spending hours on my phone to myself because there’s little to no incentive to get good grades.”
Being in Senior Spring as well as in Virtual Urban has been a challenge for seniors like Hayashi. The spring term already causes a significant decrease in motivation for seniors, so having online classes on top of that is quite challenging.
Juniors, on the other hand, have the college process to keep themselves busy during this time. Jack Setrakian ‘21 said, “In order to keep myself motivated, I try to remember that this year is pretty important for me in the long run and that doing my work is still something I need to keep up.”
To keep motivated, many students are separating their school day from their homework and studying time. For some, this means doing their homework at a different desk than they do virtual school from for a change of pace. For others, such as Marquez-Gomez, getting fresh air is key. “To stay motivated between classes I go on runs or skateboard around for a bit to get me outside and away from screens,” which allows her to come back with a clear head, ready to complete the day’s worth of schoolwork.
Aside from these activities, a change of mindset can be important. Mundy said that in order to adjust to the change, “[I am] changing my mindset around schoolwork, and giving myself space to be less excited by school because this term is so different. [This] has taken some of the pressure off my usual need to be motivated [and] get work done quickly or ahead of time.”
Accepting that this is the new normal for now, and validating the feeling of decreased motivation, can help those who are still adjusting. Additionally, clearing your head, getting fresh air, changing workspaces, or even taking a nap can improve your school day and give you more energy to complete each day successfully.