As this unprecedented global crisis continues, parents, educators, and even politicians are struggling to find ways to keep students learning during COVID-19 school closures. Luckily, today’s students have access to a multitude of online resources, which can be a huge benefit to learning while social distancing. However, students now have new challenges to address to be successful, and there are things that both teachers and parents can do to support their learning.
First and foremost, students must have access to a device that can access the Internet. Administrators have been aware of the digital divide for years, but the suddenness of current school closures has brought these discrepancies to the forefront. If your student struggles with Internet access, there may be resources available at little to no cost to families. Device access can be a little trickier, but many schools and districts are establishing programs to loan out devices to students in need.
Keeping students engaged can be a challenge in any classroom but may be more concerning to parents as their children work from home. Maintaining regular communication, providing real and tangible feedback on student work, and creating supplemental activities that are especially relevant to students are just a few ways to help keep students connected. Parents and educators should also check student progress frequently and provide updates to each other. Teachers, students, and parents must work together to promote learning and help ensure that students are on track.
Keys to Success
Time-management, organization, and perseverance are essential skills for successful online students (and working adults), and by setting clear expectations, educators can help keep students learning during COVID-19 school closures.
- Organization is paramount.
- Try building a daily schedule with dedicated time for each course as well as plenty of breaks. Ensure students know their deadlines and have all of the tools necessary to meet them. Make calendar reminders to guarantee students attend any live lessons or scheduled calls with their classes.
- Understand the time commitment.
- Some programs may require students to work a set number of hours each day, while others may assign a fixed number of tasks or assignments to complete. Help your student understand how long they need to fulfill the requirements set by the school.
- Focus on personal connections.
- Many students already had established relationships with their teachers or school counselors before moving online, and there’s no reason that school closures should cut off that support network. Continue to reach out and encourage students to communicate via email, phone call, video conferencing, or (if you’re comfortable) text message.
Acknowledge Social and Emotional Concerns
Emotions are at an all-time high for everyone, and children don’t have the same coping strategies as adults, making social and emotional concerns even more apparent for students. Above all, ensure that you are not only helping with students’ coursework, but also with their overall well-being. Teachers have an essential role to play in students’ lives and can serve as positive role models during uncertain times. Being open and honest about your experiences and fears can also encourage conversations with your students and create a safe space for them to share.
Keep Students Learning During COVID-19 School Closures
Maintaining positivity in the virtual classroom is vital as you work to keep students learning during COVID-19 school closures. Some teachers new to online learning and parents overwhelmed with the reality of homeschooling may wonder how to make online learning interactive, but it can be easier than you think.
- Make instruction entertaining.
- Play games, be creative, wear costumes, and have a good time! The distance can feel less acute when paired with some humor and fun.
- Encourage participation.
- The online learning environment can help students feel safe when asking questions. Anonymous polls during live sessions and breakout chat rooms provide introverted students with more confidence to interact.
- Highlight student achievement.
- Whether you directly email a student or give a shout-out in class, recognizing student success can be rewarding for the student and motivating for others.
- Allow the students to share.
- Students can host virtual Ask Me Anything (AMA) conversations where they share their perspectives on a particular topic. The AMA doesn’t have to be academic; the student can be recognized for a positive contribution to the community, share a study skill they find helpful, or even nominate a peer for something unique.
For more techniques and tips from other educators, check out our 5 Questions to Increase Student Success in a Digital Classroom. We appreciate all of the amazing educators and parents out there doing what they can to keep students learning during COVID-19 school closures. Keep up the good work! We truly are all in this together.