- captive audience, that’s forced to listen to me and to laugh at my jokes
- school supplies
But, really, the main reason I became a teacher was the relationships. The relationships that I had with my teachers going to school greatly influenced me. Along with the relationships, I developed while coaching. It was while coaching that I had my “ah-ha” moment. Sharing in their triumphs, seeing them smile and breaking through the defence, breaking through a barrier. This is why I became a teacher. To help support others in their growth and to encourage them along the way.
Well, it’s not the same anymore. I don’t feel connected, I feel like the relationships I’ve built with my students this year is slipping away.
So, here I am, I’m going to break this down into three branches: connections, relationships, and community.
So, how do we maintain these relationships through remote learning?
This is the question I’m struggling to answer. I don’t know if you truly can. But, we can certainly try.
One thing I knew that was important to me going into remote learning was the attempt to maintain our classroom community. Not only for the relationships I worked at developing with my students, but to help preserve the relationships developed amongst the students themselves.
As such, there are two things that I am continuing to do in our online classrooms:
1. Our daily Would You Rather
Each day in our classroom started off the same, I’d project a Would You Rather question on the classroom TV, students would grab their personalized magnets and vote. There was a method to my madness, it helped me with daily attendance, it created structure and routine, and it created a fun engaging atmosphere. Students loved to challenge each other while defending their choice.
It only seemed natural that I continue with this online. By continuing to post these questions daily. And I am thankful I have. While there is not as much debate as there would have been in class, given the asynchronous environment, students are still commenting on others’ posts.
2. Table Groups
In our classrooms, students are able to sit in groups ranging from 2 to 8. They have the tendency to sit with their same peers, they had the option to sit wherever they wanted with the use of some flexible seating.
Now, clearly this cannot be duplicated in the online environment, so instead, I created fixed “Table Groups” based on their usual choices made in the classroom. The groups were created using the Rooms feature in GoogleChat.
Each morning students are asked to participate in Table Group Chats for 15 minutes. This is the only synchronous activity that we ask our students to join in. I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for most. If students are unable to make it to the scheduled chat time, then they are encouraged to check in with their group at some time throughout the day. During the daily Table Group Chats, students are asked to see how each other are doing, to offer support with work, to provide encouragement, ultimately to be there for each other.
By using the GoogleChat feature it has allowed me the opportunity to monitor what is being said for safety reasons and the ability to monitor their engagement level.
1. Table Group Challenges
While students would often work together in small groups in class, I wanted to create something more entertaining to help with their Social Emotional Learning.
Each week Table Groups receive a challenge they have to complete together. They are assigned 30 minutes of synchronous time on Monday morning to allow for planning. They start the challenge synchronously but finish it asynchronously. There are groups that choose to schedule times in which they are all online together, they use their preference in the platform. Really, my goal is to decrease the expectations of learning, while disguising it as a fun challenge.
Challenges have varied from completing digital Breakout EDU games, creating music playlists, writing 2-word stories, and more. They’re meant to be silly but are based in SEL and curricular expectations.
2. Whole-Class Engagement Activities
This is something based on Social Media posts engagements. Usually twice a week, I’ll create an engagement activity based on a hashtag for the day of the week, and students respond similarly to how others would if it were posted in a Facebook Group or on Instagram.
For this, I use GoogleSlides and share the slides so all students can edit. Not only does this allow students to post their responses, but it also allows them to comment on others and to have conversations back and forth.
#TripTuesday. An example of one of the engagement posts.
Stay safe, stay healthy,