How TSA Prepared Me for Virtual School

Megan Cooper's picture

Hello PA-TSA members—


As you all know, this past year has been rather strange. From participating in virtual school and holding online TSA meetings to finding ways to keep ourselves fit since sports were canceled—has anyone else started running every week?—we have adapted to changing circumstances. Now, more than ever, I am trying to keep a positive attitude. After reflecting on my senior year thus far, I realized that my approach to online school is similar to my TSA events. Allow me to explain.


Let me start by saying that I by no means condone procrastination; however, I would be lying if I said I never procrastinate. Before the Regional and State conferences, I remember spending late nights working virtually with my teammates to finish projects. Whether we met through group FaceTime or Zoom, we managed to work together without being in the same room. Since we have switched to online school, I realized that working on group projects is very similar—we are no longer allowed to meet in the library and work together at school. Therefore, TSA has taught me how to work with others from a distance.


I can confidently say that, since I switched to online classes, my communication skills have improved drastically. No longer in the comfort of a classroom, I am forced to make a deliberate decision before I unmute myself and speak. I am sure many of you can relate when I say that it can be unnerving—everyone is quiet, and all eyes are on you when speaking. As a result, I have gotten decidedly better at forming coherent sentences before answering a question or sharing my thoughts. Looking back at my TSA experience, I credit much of my ability to Extemporaneous Speech or even semi-final interviews. Though I am familiar with how the event is run and what questions the judges may ask, I am nevertheless practicing my public speaking skills—if you can call a panel of judges or a classroom of peers public speaking—for more serious situations like speaking in class.


Lastly, my TSA events have taught me how to improvise and think outside of the box—essential skills for virtual school. In an event like Technology Problem Solving, if you are in the middle of building your project and you run out of Styrofoam trays, for example, you improvise. Maybe you use multiple layers of cardstock. Maybe you reevaluate your project to determine if you can allocate some Styrofoam to a different location. Either way, you are improvising to find a solution to your problem. During virtual school, my teachers have assigned more projects—often giving points for creativity. Instead of submitting a generic slideshow presentation, I have thought outside of the box and turned in pamphlets, simple websites, and videos—inspired by the Promotional Design and Digital Video Production events—with much success.


Overall, I am appreciative of TSA’s impact on my current work ethic and online school experience. As with everything, there is still a learning curve, and I am still finding what works best for me. I am optimistic that things will return to some level of normalcy eventually. In the meantime, I look forward to working with the other state officers to—virtually—plan State conference activities.


As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions.


Very respectfully,


Megan Cooper

2020-2021 PA-TSA State Secretary