I was originally going to subtitle this “Teaching In a Pandemic,” but it occurred to me that many of us might have a remote or blended system for some time, if not forever.
I wanted to collect some thoughts and ideas from students and teachers alike and share them with you. There are some cool tips for you to take away and some wisdom from the class of 2021.
However, before we get into that! One of the teachers in my department, Bob Habersat, had his kids create memes about working in breakout rooms during eLearning. Here are three of the best:
Props to Tamia, Laura, and Joe for these awesome memes!
Tip From Teachers
And speaking of the awesome Mr. Habersat, he wanted to drop this advice about distance learning:
“Most behaviors are defined in the classroom by the physical space. Desk formation, teacher proximity, and even the location of the board dictate expectations and outcomes for the class. In a remote environment, these expectations and outcomes aren’t apparent. At home, the physical organization of the classroom isn’t there. Students default to behaviors that are least restrictive; often not being ideal for learning. These behaviors need to be explicitly identified and defined. It is also a great opportunity to democratize the classroom. Have students brainstorm ideas for what positive eLearning looks and sounds like in their environment. Come up with a list of things that bother you as an eLearning teacher and share them with the students. If you frame it positively and make it a challenge, students will understand what is expected and they will have ownership of their virtual classroom.”
I like the idea of getting the students involved in the learning process. The more student options, the better. I also feel that moving forward with a more organically open class set-up with tables and comfy chairs around the room may make things feel a bit more like home once we get back into the swing of things.
High school Social Studies teacher Jason Nisavic says, “Make them feel connected. In January, I asked them ‘What’s something every adult seems to know how to do but you don’t?’ And I’ve been teaching them some things like how to pump gas! I also consider the ways I’ve gotten more effective as a teacher. I’m moving a lot of my assignments online after this, and also I’ll have students draw more to illustrate concepts, which I had them start doing because we couldn’t use handouts.”
I love that idea of engaging kids with things adults know. I bet that would interest many students that might check out, and once you have them, it’s easier to keep them!
English Teacher Adam Ebert mentioned that he has leaned a lot more into student self-pacing and progress trackers to give students more independence.
I like this idea. Before we left “normal school” about a year ago now, I was playing with a hybrid model 1st period where I’d teach a couple days during the week, and they’d be self-monitoring and coming to me for help as needed the rest of the time. It was working well; it was like college.
I think the days of standing in front of students for five day lecturing are coming to an end. How can you start getting your students a bit more self-paced and accountable? I know it’s tough right now though. We have students logging in and going to sleep. But much of what we learn now, we will use in the coming years.
I’ll have more teacher feedback next week week on this topic, but for now, I’d like to end with some thoughtful comments on eLearning from the class of 2021.
Lessons From Students
“Give us the assignment, and let us leave class. Since my internet is really bad at home, doing the assignment and having the (class) meeting open causes me to get kicked out or the assignment not to load.” -Faith F.
“I like that my teacher reads my emails.” -Matt B.
“Extended due dates and changes in late work policies helped me keep my grades up and actually like school.” -Abe S.
“I like how supportive and nice the teachers are even though they don’t really know us.” -Damian A.
“I have a teacher that records all of our meetings and posts them on his YouTube channel. It helps a lot because sometimes I don’t have the energy to pay attention, or I’m absent, and I just go watch his channel.” -Safaa D.
“Some things I found beneficial that past and current teachers do is when they understand last minute or unexpected situations. They understand if you need an extension on an essay because they realize that we have other responsibilities at home. Whether it’s helping out younger siblings with remote learning as well, or helping out parents that lost their job or even dealing with losing loved ones that passed because of Covid. I believe that once a student realizes that they have a teacher that understands those kinds of things, it takes away some stress from their life.” -Lupe L.
I’ll end today on those wise words from Lupe. I’ll have more tips from teachers and student reflections next week Tuesday. Stop back and learn with us!