As distance learning continues for many communities across the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenge of keeping students engaged and feeling supported continues to linger into 2021. While the experience of in-person learning cannot be replaced with a virtual learning experience, here are a few tips and tricks to help you through this challenging time as an educator.
Focus on supporting students in their new routine by developing new strategies
Many students can struggle with the loss of routine, especially in the absence of structure. Depending on the grade level you teach, you could begin by using some dedicated time to support them in creating a new schedule and routine. Checklists are a great option to provide to students at the beginning of the week to help teach planning and working on short-term goals. You could even use this as an opportunity to have students research best practices as part of a research project or essay. Even better, students could create newsletters or daily emails that are sent out with short, quick tips for other students to try.
Take the pressure off
How many times have you been frustrated yourself by not being able to access an online platform because you either couldn't find the login information or were unsure about where to go once you were on a shared platform? Use some time to give students an overview of where information is saved and how to create bookmarks for easy access, and be consistent as to where materials are saved. What may seem like a minor stressor to some could be the difference of not even trying to do it out of frustration for others.
Find new and different ways to meet students where they are
Many students may be comfortable enough with online learning at this point. But, it is important to remember that students who struggle in the classroom with ADHD or lower reading levels, or who may not have access to the internet, are still out there, and it is important to try our best as educators to make materials accessible to all. Simple strategies such as a daily check-in or using a self-management strategy like a timer or goal tracker could all be beneficial.
Maintain positive relationships with the students and their families, if possible
Keeping relationships active during this time of virtual learning is critical to students’ success. Frequent check-ins and showing interest in what is happening outside of school all go a long way in allowing students to feel supported during a challenging time. Stress, especially long-term, can make it really difficult for a student to focus on school. Understanding where they are at and just simply listening will help you understand why they may be struggling and give them an opportunity to be successful in an environment that can be rather difficult and abnormal.