As students in the College of Education adapt to online instruction in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have reached out to them to see how they’re adjusting to this new mode of learning. They’re telling us what works and what doesn’t as far as learning strategies online, and what they’re taking away from the experience.

Katie Mastrone is an elementary education major. We caught up with her to talk online learning and the methods she’s used to excel during the tail end of this unusual spring semester.

What has been your favorite e-learning approach?

Honestly, my favorite part has been the Zoom classes even though it is a little strange doing all my classes online. It’s really nice to be able to see my professors and classmates, and it makes it feel a little more normal even though I’m not in Clemson.

What helps you focus?

Getting a nice quiet space and just telling myself I’m going to sit down and do work helps me focus. It just helps to keep a little bit more normalcy.

How do you avoid distractions?

I avoid distractions by trying to stick to as normal a routine as possible and knowing that even though I am doing school, it’s okay to not follow a perfect schedule. It takes time to adjust to e-learning instead of being on campus for class.

Mastrone Katie

Mastrone says she misses seeing her friends in person, but knows she’ll be back on campus soon.
Image Credit: College of Education

How has e-learning allowed you to stay connected with your Clemson community?

E-learning has helped me stay connected because through Zoom classes I’m able to see all my classmates. In elementary education we get really close to our cohorts, and we see them in class every day so it is weird not seeing everyone all the time. However, it’s nice to see them in online classes. Also, through Zoom, I’ve been able to connect with friends that aren’t education majors, so it makes things seem more normal even though we’re all practicing social distancing.

What is your advice to eliminate stress? 

My advice to help eliminate stress is to just kind of stay calm, write a to-do list of everything we need to do for the week or the day. I’ve tried to just take it as it comes and know that it’s okay not to be as productive as you usually are and that we’ll all get used to doing e-learning.

How are you focusing on the positive in light of these unusual circumstances?

I’m focusing on the positive by reminding myself that it’s okay to miss Clemson and miss my friends and miss my normal routine. It also reminds me how grateful I am for everything that I have at Clemson and that I’m so lucky to have something so awesome that I miss when I’m not there. I’m like lucky to have such great friendships in the College of Education and at Clemson in general and to have great professors that allow me to enjoy my classes. Focusing on that helps me stay more positive than just being sad and missing the end of spring semester.

How has your student teaching been impacted?

I’m a junior now so two of my classes are in an elementary school, a math methods course and a children’s literature class. We pop into classes throughout the semester and give a few lessons, so for those classes we’re still doing our lesson planning as we normally would.

For the math class, we’re delivering lessons to our fellow students instead of children, which is kind of funny because the other day I gave a number talk to a bunch of my classmates who are all juniors in college while they pretended to be a group of second graders. It’s kind of funny. Even though it’s not the same, it’s better than nothing so I think that’s a great example of how the College of Education has been adapting throughout this whole situation.

I’m excited to be back in Clemson in the fall and to get back into a more normal routine. Doing all these online classes makes me appreciate all the awesome professors as they’re all trying to accommodate our individual situations. They all genuinely care about their students which I think is what is really special about the College of Education and Clemson University.

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