While many students and teachers might be itching to get back to the classroom and regain a sense of normalcy, it looks like online classes will be here to stay a little longer as many area school systems are choosing to start classes online this fall.
Student engagement is always a huge problem for teachers, but the era of distance learning has made this task significantly harder. These days, teachers are now competing with spotty internet connections, distractions at home, and lots of technical difficulties. Teachers and parents have had to adopt a more active role; here are some of the ways to mindfully engage students at home.
Remember to check in
Many of us, let alone students, may not understand the continuing gravity of today's health crisis, and it can be hard to deal with a situation you don't fully grasp. This means that teachers and parents need to provide students with emotional support and create a supportive atmosphere – in addition to education. Maryville University's human development and family studies specialists reveal that you are shaped by those you surround yourself with. The university notes that this is especially true of your family, friends, and those at your school. In turn, the dynamics within these groups can be affected by social changes. Without having people to lean on in this stressful time, kids will have a significantly harder time focusing on their learning.
Take the time to personally check in with your children or students. If possible, teachers can allot some time before or after discussions to give students a safe space to express their struggles. Child development specialist Anne Hindrichs says that proper communication is the key to a healthy relationship with young students, so don't forget to practice active listening so your kids really feel heard.
Work with other teachers
Collaborating with other teachers and parents to see how you can all support your young learners at this time is especially key. An article by Education Week discussed the growth of online learning sessions for teachers themselves. These open forums are a chance for teachers to learn from their peers. Online platform TeachersConnect runs their sessions by inviting a rotating panel of teachers to discuss what they're doing and impart some advice to those who are struggling. In a similar vein, charitable organization Future of School hosts webinars for teachers every other week.
For those who have been following our blog, the story of 2nd-grader Michael's success with his after-school program proves that it truly takes a village to raise a child. While this village may be physically distant for now, teachers can still work with each other, their students, and parents to create mindful and engaging sessions.
Exclusively written for uwdor.org by Clara Newman