Teachers Are Superheroes: Using Innovation to Engage Students and Families

By Dr. Tracy Vasquez and Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick

<span>Teachers Are Superheroes: Using Innovation to Engage Students and Families</span>

The fall 2020 semester has been unlike any other, yet teachers and student teachers across the country have become innovative in the way they engage students and families. As teachers adapt to this new way of teaching, many tools can be used to help boost innovation and engage students as well as families, even with distance learning.

Technology Tools Supporting Learning

Students can be engaged through apps like Pear Deck as they participate in interactive lessons. Activating prior knowledge can be supported with visuals, as well as collaboration between students to enhance engagement. In addition, this tool can assist the teacher in conducting formative assessments, such as exit tickets at the end of a lesson, or temperature checks throughout the day. A benefit of many of these tools is the flexibility with a variety of age and grade levels. Learning templates can be duplicated, customized or created uniquely by the teacher to meet the learning objective.

Student accountability can be supported with a tool like Class Dojo, which creates a positive culture through tracking student engagement, digital portfolios and family connections. Within a class session, students can be applauded for working intently both independently and collaboratively or for following classroom expectations.

Distributing Materials

It can be especially important for young students to have manipulatives, sensory materials or content-related tools at their fingertips to support ongoing learning. Some teachers are providing weekly grab-and-go bags for students to use for the week’s learning, which may include worksheets or other materials. It also provides an opportunity for the teacher to make a weekly connection with parents and maintain a friendly rapport.

To ensure nutritional needs of students are being met, many educators are working with cafeteria staff to distribute balanced meals. Going above and beyond for these students and families helps strengthen the sense of community and promotes a caring culture.

Culturally Inclusive Learning

Now more than ever it has become evident that educators need to be mindful of a student's individual needs to make learning relevant and personable. In order to do this, you may want to set aside some time to learn about each student and their family, including interests, culture, background, family traditions and value systems.

You can add these ideas to your teacher superhero toolbox! Lastly, you can bring these ideas to life by modeling enthusiasm and excitement for teaching, which gives us all hope for a bright future!

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.