Reaching students through the screen
Do you ever want to just reach through the screen and give your students a hug, or a shake? I have looked out at the sea of black boxes with white names written across and wondered if they are even still there never mind taking anything in!
Even if your students aren’t like mine and they are actively taking part in the class, you might still be worried how much you are getting across. Maybe it is because I am old, but I often have trouble judging how much the students actually understand in a lesson, there is something very real about the way children respond in a class. They lean forward, their body language tells me they get it and I can just ‘feel’ the responses.
I have spent a lot of time working on ways to replicate this with online teaching. While, for me at least, zoom lessons will never be quite the same for my teaching, I have a few tips for helping to gage your student’s participation:
Peer to peer
Leaving time in your lesson for peer to peer chatter (without it being forced), can be very beneficial. While it is true that there are many, many ways for kids to connect digitally, there is something special about the conversations they students get to have in class when the teacher steps out for a moment. Giving this back in a digital form, can be so rewarding for them and reminds them of their classroom community.
Use the chat
Just the thought of this can induce anxiety. I get it, students in the chat are a bit wild and unpredictable, but learning to read their engagement through the chat messages can be very helpful and allowing their community to stay connected in this way benefits everyone. Although I do appreciate that monitoring the chat is difficult.
This is often overlooked as a way to engage. Particularly in older kids, I’ve seen teachers forgetting to use this handy feature. Something as simple as a quick – ‘raise hands if you follow this’ can draw the kids back in. Let them see that they are still part of this class and need to be involved.
An important point to not with this is that they need to take action if they understand, not if they don’t. This means that anyone not raising their hand either needs help or isn’t participating, this gives you a much clearer way of thinking.
Clapping and rhymes
Teachers of younger kids, will probably be well aware of the power of clapping, songs and rhymes but it isn’t just for the littles. The students might feel silly at first but it is incredibly powerful to use rhyme and song in class and seeing how much they participate can give you a lot of information. With how we are currently teaching it also allows for this type of engagement without the ‘in person’ embarrassment that a lot of kids might feel in the classroom.
I have only very recently started to use digital stickers and I can really see the advantages. While I am in no way an expert in this, I can see how they can encourage and support your students. Again this is not something often associated with the older students but everyone loves a sticker digital or otherwise.
If you have an interest in digital stickers, please let me know I am considered a blog post on these in the near future.
These are just some of the things that have helped me with virtual teaching. However you are teaching this term, I hope you are staying safe and remember to look after yourself as well!
I covered the points on this in my recent Instagram live as well as answered recent questions on escape rooms watch here!