Whether you are exclusively running your class through prerecorded video sessions or by live video calls, teachers are looking for the connection to their students that they receive in the classroom. Obviously during this time of social distancing, there is no way that you can be face to face with your students but there are a few processes that could bring back the connection.
Encourage Video Chats
For those teachers who are hosting live video calls in replacement of lectures, turn on your video and encourage your students to do the same! Especially with the elementary and middle school age children, being able to see their friends and connect with someone other than their parents can go a long way. To increase engagement in these calls, start implementing fun ways to start off the call so that all the viewers are engaged when the discussion or lesson begins. For the younger age groups, hold a show and tell where one or two kids each day bring a favorite stuffed animal or wear their favorite outfit to show it off. The same goes for older age groups, choosing something that would interest them to bring to the beginning of the call to share with the class. This will not only engage your students in conversation, but it will make them look forward to the next day’s lesson.
Coordinate Lively Discussions
If you don’t have the capability or don’t plan to hold live video conferences, there are other ways of connecting with your learners. Suggest that after viewing the lesson for that day, they write out a couple sentences in response to the topic being covered. This doesn’t have to be anything in-depth, especially for the younger ages who may find this difficult. It can be as simple as pointing out one part they enjoyed or a part where they were confused. If the software allows, maybe encourage your students to reply to other responses that resonate with them. By viewing these posts, you can see how much of your lesson was understood and what maybe needs to be hit on again in a future video.
Utilize Your Resources
The more time that passes during the COVID-19 outbreak, the more likely it is that the rest of the school year will be spent under distant learning. Now is the time more than ever to lean on the community of people around you. If you are having trouble connecting with a child, reach out to the parents and see what is going on in the home life. As a teacher, you cannot stop life from happening, but you can be a constant in the child’s life through this new and sometimes scary time. Assigning projects allowing students to express their emotions and reactions, and then use those results to try to connect to them where they are.
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