Oct 26, 2021
3 min read
Let’s take a second to put academics aside and focus on student connection. While it may not feel like it right now, having that connection with your students, might give them exactly that sense of security they need so much during these difficult days. As some of you have already experienced, connecting to students from afar is hard. You feel like you’re spending all day constantly running after students only to see a handful of them show up to your lesson. There’s no silver bullet for this, but here are some actionable tips from the field to help improve that incredibly important student connection.
Call, video, Zoom, Meet, Snapchat… whichever platform you prefer to form a conversation. Ask your students how they are doing, how their family is holding up and if everyone is healthy. Ask how the learning is going and how you could be of support. Share your own concerns about working remotely. Allow yourself to be a bit less formal than usual while having a 1:1. Be yourself — they are probably missing you.
Daily check-ins are super important during this time as they are your immediate way to get feedback on your students. We call these “student pulse checks”, and they can take all shapes and forms. Your pulse check doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate; it can be in the spirit of: “How are you doing today?” Make sure to provide multiple choice options and the ability to write an answer in their own words in order to get the best perspective. Leverage tools to help you do this — some teachers use Google forms to deliver their daily check ins. Tailor-ED makes this process easier as it allows you to include questions about the socio-emotional needs of the student in your exit tickets — this helps making student pulse checks a habit.
If some of your students don’t show up to your Google Meet sessions or don’t turn in their work in time, hold your frustration. Don’t assume their delay or no-show indicates low motivation. Your students may be facing struggles you may not know about, like having to babysit younger siblings, having no 1:1 access to devices etc. Stay as positive as you can and reach out whenever you are concerned via email and phone. Solutions to their lack of engagement can only be found once you understand the root of the problem.
Reduce the stress level during your online learning session by starting your lesson with a funny story or allow your students to share a meme or use a funny face filter for a short while. Humor is known to reduce stress, and at a time like this- it may have a positive effect on both your and their well-being. Check out the SnapCamera application and ask everyone to login as a potato — you’ll see how the awkwardness in your remote lesson disappears.
It’s not all about the lessons. Your students are missing their classroom community more than ever. Eat lunch together, hold virtual birthday parties, do a shared dance, follow an exercise video together, show your pets and houses, play games, sing along to karaoke. Ask your students what would be fun for them and decide on an activity together. Asking them and following their suggestion will increase their attendance rate to your shared activity. To conclude, just like any other educational process, shifting to remote learning requires some patience. It generally takes a few weeks for students to get used to virtual learning. Don’t worry if things don’t come easy at first, it’s completely natural. The most important part is not to become demoralized or to lose hope — you’ve got this, and we’re here rooting for you.
To hear more feel free to get in touch or follow us on Medium where we will be drawing up a remote learning action plan using Tailor-ED to master engaging your students from afar.
Tailor-ED helps teachers create remote lesson plans that are tailored to the needs of students.