While working and planning for students’ continued Learning, many teachers are also wondering how to continue building class community and how to look out for students’ mental health. So here are 12 tips.
1 – Consider hosting virtual playdates or hangouts on Google Meet or Zoom. You might set an “agenda” for the playdate with a game or read aloud or something planned, but it’s also fine to just let kids talk to you and to each other. I have found that shorter, more frequent Google Meet hangouts are best. It might be helpful to schedule these at different times of day (sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon) to accommodate family schedules. In my case, it has been more helpful to have one consistent day and time. Do what works best for you and your class. (I have a list of ideas for Google Meet or Zoom activities HERE.)
2 – Use Google forms to send regular “check-ins” to your students. Jennifer Findley has some great resources on her blog post HERE. It’s always good to start with the simple prompt, “Today I feel . . .” and allow kids to fill it in. Another option is to offer these multiple-choice options:
A – great!
B – meh
C – not great but I have talked to my family about it
D – not great and I need you to call me.
3 – If you feel the need to send tasks for your students to do, consider sending them healthy habits reminders. Here are some ideas:
~sleep for 8 – 10 hours
~learn to cook or prepare a healthy meal or snack
~play outside, do some yoga, or have a dance party
~read outside or in a different place from usual
4 – If you do need to help support students with home learning, consider using a Google Meet or Zoom meeting, making a phone call (or FaceTiming), providing video lessons, or providing a teacher-curated list of learning resources. (Download my PDF HERE.)
5 – Consider sending a daily email with a quote (365 Days of Wonder and The Ultimate Book of Inspiring Quotes for Kids are great sources), a joke from Jokes for Kids, something from Every Day is a Holiday, or something from 14,000 Things to be Happy About.
6 – Find ways to say hello frequently. Remind kids that you are thinking of them, that you care about them, and that you miss them. A simple daily 1-2 minute video would be one way to do this as would a phone call or email.
7 – Using a tool like Padlet is a great way to have a simplified morning meeting. Post a prompt or question and send the Padlet link to students. They can reply on the Padlet wall and even add a photo if they want to.
Some possible prompts:
*share a great book you are reading
*share a picture of a pet or a favorite stuffed animal
*what is one “brag” and one “drag” about online learning?
*what is a “rose” and what is a “thorn” about your week or weekend?
*would you rather . . . ? questions
8 – Suggest that students reach out to each other or to other loved ones by writing letters or making cards and sending them through the mail.
9 -Don’t forget the families or caregivers! Consider emailing or calling once a week to check in on how they’re doing.
10 – Allow students to express themselves through writing. Encourage students to keep a journal, write stories or poems, or write a first-hand account of their experiences during this time.
11 – Keep as much consistency and routine as possible. Some families thrive on creating and following a set schedule and other families are more flexible. Everyone needs to do what works best for them. But you can provide some routine by emailing within a certain time frame every day, uploading a video within a certain time frame, sending check-in forms on certain days, etc.
12 – Provide variety and choice in the learning activities that you offer to students. They will be more motivated when they have some control over what they are doing and what they are learning.
I hope you found an idea that would be simple for you to implement this week. Your students will be more motivated to learn and to complete online learning assignments when they still feel connected to you and to each other. Let me know if you have found other great ways to connect with your class!
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