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Adapting to change: addressing concerns around the ‘new normal’

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By Katie Santiago, ACA Tutor Link to Katie Santiago's LinkedIn profile

7 months later and we are STILL online. Who would’ve thought that we’d ever get used to all this change?

Whilst it seemed daunting at first, many of my students have gotten used to the ‘new norm’ that is online learning. Shockingly, they admitted the best thing about it is the fact they can get out of bed at 5 to 9 and be ready to start their day.

However, there are still a few concerns around all the changes that are happening right now, so I’d like to address some of them.

Concerns around exams

The ICAEW provide clear guidance on their website. It details the requirements each student will need to complete in order to sit their exams from home. This includes checking: the internet quality, the ability to run the software, and detailed guidance about what is/is not allowed on the day of the exam.

I would strongly recommend that the students who are considering sitting exams from home should read through the ICAEW guidance before booking their exams.

Your feedback

Feedback from students who have completed their exams from home has been very positive. Many of them preferred the less stressful environment, compared to being in a test centre, and have developed ways to make it work for them.

For instance, some of my students - who live in flats - printed outdoor signs to inform their neighbours that they are sitting an exam and to ‘please keep the noise down’.

I would recommend letting whoever you live with know the exact timing of your exam so that they do not make any noise during this period.

If sitting the exam from home does not suit you, then there are still a number of test centres available to sit the exam. However, double check your exam centre rules as some centres have stricter rules in place than others.

Extra precautions for centre exams

Kaplan have taken extra precautions. There will now be a one way system, compulsory mask wearing for students and tutors, and an abundance of sanitizer and wipes available.

Staff will be wearing a visor, and students will have the choice of whether they would like to wear a mask once inside or not. The layout of our rooms have now changed and the tables are separated from each other.

Feedback has been positive already, and once people get used to the new way of Kaplan life, they quickly adapt to it.

Screen time

Whilst a lot of my students have become used to online teaching and don’t mind it as much as they did back in March, they are still struggling to limit themselves in terms of the amount of screen time they have.

Too much screen time can cause a lot of negative issues such as procrastination, headaches, fatigue, impact on your eye site, and worst of all having to spend more time doing your revision due to the lack of focus and distractions.

Hints to avoid too much screen time

Monitor your screen time – on most phones you have the ability to monitor how much you are using your phone throughout the day and you can use the data to compare it to previous weeks/days. You can also set yourself limits where your phone will notify you that you’ve reached your screen time for the day and won’t allow you to use certain apps as a result.

Delete/log out of social media apps – it is very easy to fall down the social media rabbit hole during the day and distract you from your revision. A tip could be to delete/log out of the app and either re-download it in the evening or go on it from another device. I tried this myself and it worked wonders.

Breaks - When a tutor sets breaks/lunch make sure you get away from your laptop screen and try to go outside or to another room. It’s very common for students to go from one screen straight onto the next without even moving from their chair! Make sure we are getting up and doing a bit of exercise at the same time as taking our eyes off our beloved screens.

I hope this provides some assurance and context around these odd and challenging times we live in. Be kind to yourself and take things one day at a time. Do what works for you.