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“No Bells in Pennsylvania Cyber School” – Time Management Advice From Principal McSweeney

By Dr. Teresa McSweeney, 21CCCS High School Principal

I have served as the 21CCCS high school principal for almost a year, and I believe my transition to Pennsylvania cyber school proved to be almost as difficult for me as it is for many of our cyber school students. I cannot help but wonder if cyber school students feel some of the same feelings and have some of the same issues that I have experienced as the principal of one of the best cyber schools in PA.

Can you guess one of the changes that require an adjustment for a cyber school principal…and perhaps cyber school students? No bells!

Until I came to Pennsylvania cyber school, I did not realize all the purposes those bells served. In a traditional school, we had a bell that rang every 55 minutes that triggered the urge to stand up and walk to the hallway. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my work, that I forget to stand and walk, so I set an alarm to remind me. In fact, my alarm just sounded…time for a walk…brb…ok, back to writing the article. Most of your 21CCCS teachers have specific times to stretch each day, similar to the “7th Inning Stretch” in baseball, and we all try to take a walk as often as possible.

The traditional school bell also reminded students, even gave us permission, to stop one subject and move to the next. In traditional school, when the bell rings, you go to the next class, whether or not you have completed an assignment, finished a paper, or had more to learn for that lesson. I know that some of you really like to do one or two subjects per day, but research actually shows that you will retain information longer if you practice the content you are trying to learn every day. (https://www.daniel-wong.com/2015/08/17/study-smart/)  If you think about it, this really makes sense. If you want to play an instrument well or excel in a sport, you practice every day. Academic skills require daily practice, too, whether you’re attending a traditional school or are a cyber school student.

Are you a cyber school student who misses the bells that ring in a traditional school? If so, you might try setting an alarm. I actually set an alarm to function as a “tardy bell” for me each morning, and some mornings I literally race the clock to plop into my office chair before my self-inflicted tardy bell rings. Just like the 21CCCS high school principal, you might need something to remind you that it is time for cyber school to start. If you struggle with following a structured, disciplined schedule to complete your Moodle assignments, set alarms to function as bells to tell you when to stand up, walk around the house, and sit back down to study. Follow the link for an interesting article on the benefits of naps, you might even schedule yourself a naptime bell (http://prepmatters.com/2017/09/25/back-school-brain-fog-theres-nap/).

So, those annoying bells of traditional school sometimes served as ringing reminders for how we can structure and schedule our learning for maximum success. Time to wrap up this article. The alarm on my phone says it is time to go home.