“When you can’t find someone to follow, you have to find a way to lead by example.” Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist
As teachers and students, we are so used to being around other people. Spending the days by myself is going to be tough, and I think it’s going to be tough for my students too!
Throughout Distance Learning, there are a few things that I will continue to do from our Term 1 practice. I believe that wellbeing goes hand in hand with learning so it is important to continue to build friendships and connections and to ensure there is time for mindfulness.
Reflection– It is more important now than ever to take time to reflect on our learning, priorities and how we are feeling. My students are all so different, some will like to communicate this through writing and some through drawing and colouring. Why not give them the choice? Download the resource below.
Just Dance or Zumba– We did this every day in class to break up a double period and the students loved it. I realised that I could share my screen with my students so we will continue with that tradition. We also had a few siblings join our sessions last term, which was wonderful.
Group Text Chats– We will use Microsoft Teams to connect with our class this term and there is a function that allows you to open and close a channel. This allows me to supervise the chat for a particular period of time. I saw my students write messages to each other, send pictures and emojis and they all looked forward to it.
Recognise and celebrate birthdays– In a Distance Learning class at the end of Term 1, we each wore a ‘funky/cool/outrageous’ hat and began the session with a sing song.
Open line of communication– Our students are very lucky to have iPads and access emails and chat on Microsoft Teams. They can contact us any time with questions and some just like to chat, especially those working on their own at home.
Themes for our meetings- Each Friday, we will have a different theme for the meeting. The students will be told what the theme is each Friday and they are so excited by it. Last week, we had a spots and dots theme and I literally dressed head to toe in dots. It brought so many smiles to faces to share their outfits, some students even made crowns and masks.
Survey- Do you have the opportunity to do a survey via email, Seesaw or Google Forms? We asked the students to complete a survey about the Distance Learning journey so far. It was important to ask what they liked, didn’t like, suggestions for changes and something they wanted their teacher to know. It was extremely revealing and our students were so honest. It broke my heart to read how many of them missed their friends and the suggestions they had to see each other more.
Questions- Encourage questions! I remind my students all the time to keep asking questions. It was so easy to do this while in class, it’s a good idea to work out a good way to do this while learning Online. Don’t forget to remind your students that there is no such thing as a silly question.
Morning Challenge- Begin your morning by asking your students to find something around their home to bring back and share. Examples of this might be; something from your fridge you might eat for breakfast, something you take on holidays, an item of clothing you cannot live without or something shiny/blue/makes a noise. While we didn’t have time for everyone to share everyday, I keep a checklist to make sure each student has an opportunity at least once per week. I’ve also told my students that if they don’t get to share and would really like to, they could record a video or post an image to Seesaw and share that way.
Opportunity to share- There are many opportunities to share things from home that might be difficult in class so take advantage of that. Some ideas might be; bring your pet day, introduce your sibling, share a song with your musical instrument. Bring your pet morning was a huge hit.
Class Project- While your student might not be able to collaborate in person, there are still ways to do this while learning online. We shared a story with our students are asked them to design a page for a class story book. This worked well with a story call ‘If I Had an Elephant’ because each page shared a different idea. We were able to collate all of the pages using an app called Book Creator to share it with our students and families.
Connectedness while doing a Distance Learning program is so important for students and teachers! I’d highly recommend completing a survey with your students to see how they are going. We hope to do another survey in a few weeks if we are still learning in this way.