As educators and students prepare for the start of a new academic school year, they will be faced with a different way of teaching and learning. This semester more than ever, it is important to apply best practices to ensure that students are actively engaged in learning. Below are some strategies that can assist you in engaging with students and their families as you adjust your remote teaching practice.
For parents, personally connecting with your child before online learning begins for the day can be an essential motivator. Before moving into any tasks, routines or requirements, connect with your child –seek the gleam in their eye and the smile on their face. Take a minute to observe what they care most about in the moment. Then, get down on their level by kneeling or sitting on the floor. Engage in favorite connecting activities, such as singing, imitating each other, playing with favored objects or tickling/rough and tumble play. Before a child can learn, they need to feel connected emotionally to the relationship. Then, when the learning activity is introduced, continue that back-and-forth, engaging and connected relationship by choosing activities that are collaborative, interactive and play-based. It’s about togetherness and meaning, not about a to-do list, so focus on being together and finding joy in the activities you embark on.
-Stephanie Nilsen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Establish a Daily Routine With a Schedule
All students benefit from structure. It’s predictability that helps them to make sense of their day and anticipate what’s next. If you as an educator keep a regular schedule with your student(s), they will feel more secure.
Be sure to consider what are the most important times to have direct contact and support for your students. Schedule conferences with your students and their families during the most convenient times for everyone. Add in some rewards and positive feedback for attending the class sessions and adhering to the schedule each day. Most importantly, add in some fun and try to encourage families to connect with other families via Zoom, Facetime or another video conferencing application.
-Kimber Underdown, M.A.T., Associate Professor and Katie Sprute, M.Ed., Faculty Chair
Incorporate Project-Based Learning
Design extension learning experiences for students and families. These experiences can be aligned to the topics and objectives that you’re teaching, helping students develop valuable skillsets for learning such as communication, following directions, researching, analyzing data and evaluating the results of their investigations. For example, students can practice following directions by following a recipe and working on math and science at the same time. Scavenger hunts and Simon Says are other engaging and easy games to build skills in listening, reading and following directions. Writing letters to friends and family can also help foster communication skills and academic skills. Using jellybeans or marshmallows and toothpicks, siblings could work together or have a competition for the strongest or largest structure.
-Virginia Murray, M.A., Faculty Lead, Special Education
There are plenty of technological tools that can be used to support students in virtual settings, many of which can be relied on to supplement curriculum and increase student independence. For instance, video conferencing can enhance the student’s abilities to communicate progress and set new goals, while skill-building apps can reinforce skills and provide opportunities to practice reading comprehension and fluency or mathematic problem-solving strategies. This can be very helpful as many parents are working from home while supporting their child in their schoolwork.
-Rebekah Dyer, Ed.D. Associate Professor
With the increased amount of remote teaching and learning, students may be at risk of not being as engaged as when they attended school in person, so it is critical that educators and families have the necessary tools and strategies to ensure their academic needs are met.
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