Each week, I receive messages from educators who are struggling to keep students engaged as they start another semester of virtual learning. If that sounds like you (or someone you know), here are three easy, tech-focused tips to help you more efficiently teach your students in your hybrid or virtual classroom.
Please forward this email to a teacher that could benefit from these suggestions!
1️. How can I “break the ice” in my class?
Now that school is back in session for many, some of your students might be struggling to reconnect with classmates they have not seen or spoken with in a while. They might be feeling self-conscious and anxious about one-on-one communication with others in their class. Here is a great activity you can use to help get the conversation started!
- Either in the physical classroom or over whatever video conferencing program you use, have your students each take a few minutes to talk to the class about what they like to do, their interests, hobbies, etc.
- Instruct the students who are listening to take notes of what the presenter is saying.
- After all of the students have had an opportunity to share, have them use their notes to develop a list of conversation starter questions based on their peers’ interests.
- Partner the students together and have them take turns asking their questions. Allow any subsequent conversation to flow naturally.
Not only will they better develop their communication skills, this will also give them an opportunity to learn more and befriend their classmates!
2️. How can I keep my students excited during remote learning?
While watching television the other night, I noticed an insurance company’s advertisement that showed two young adults playing a video game. At the end, they indicated the game was boring and decided to move on to something else. Is this the attitude your students are feeling about your lessons?
Remember that excitement and interest are quick to fade. The next shiny object or thrill is “just around the corner”! Here are some ideas for adding student engagement to your lessons:
- Student response cards. Have students hold up card that indicates their thinking or understanding of concept (i.e. true/false, yes/no, need help/OK I got this, etc.).
- Stimulation. Students are provided with interactive or real-world experiences.
- Students cannot learn if they are not actively involved in the lesson. Remember: “He who is doing the work is the one who is learning.”
3️. Is remote learning robbing children of their independence?
One of the perceptions that parent often want to discuss with me is their despairing belief that remote learning is impacting their child’s independence. This concern revolves around the fact that their child is becoming MORE dependent on the parent for assistance than the child would if they where in a classroom.
Parents have expressed concern when they are asked to spell a word for the child, or type this paper for them, and some even say that they are asked to complete an assignment. As an educator, here are some ideas to help restore a student’s independence:
- Assure students that fears and emotions can be overwhelming, but you are there to help. In what ways are you accessible to answer their questions and concerns? Are your students “aware” of them?
- If one student has a concern or does not understand the directions, there are probably others. Is there a procedure in place to ask for help? Speaking up should not be unexpected and uncomfortable.
- Explain to your students that they are the ones responsible for their actions, success, grades, and choices. In what ways are you providing them guidance?
- Remind them that FAILS = “First Attempt in Learning Something.” In what ways are you using unsuccessful attempts to encourage and promote independence?
Dr. William Lane is a special education consultant, international speaker, and best-selling author who helps post-secondary institutions and businesses develop programs that create clear pathways to graduation and meaningful employment opportunities for neurodivergent individuals. For more information about Dr. Lane and his services, please visit his website.