I got to be part of an online workshop this week with hundreds of educators, kindergarten through university. These dedicated teachers were looking for ways to engage their students online in this new, unsettling world we’re all living in. One of my favorite aspects of the workshop was the incredibly generous way that the teachers contributed in the ongoing chat thread—asking questions, offering solutions, resources, and ideas that they had tried.
One topic that came up was how to replicate the casual conversations, the container of relationship, that we take for granted when we spend time with other people every day in the same space. “I used to greet my students at the door every day and have a little time to check in with them; what do I do on Zoom?”
The answers here are going to vary from teacher to teacher. The personalities, circumstances, students, and subjects of each teacher will determine what these rituals and routines look like, just like they do in physical classrooms. But it’s important to think this through, give it a dry run, before the first day of school.
Here are the questions I would start with:
What will it feel like to enter my learning space? Will they come all at once (be let in at the same time from a waiting room), or can they enter as they arrive? What will they see and hear as they come in?
Where am I? Am I in my classroom, a dedicated space in my home, or somewhere else?
When I think about the important routines and rituals of the day, what can I keep? What will need to be changed? How can I keep the essence of the ritual if we aren’t in the same room?
As a student, what should I expect from this class? How do I know what’s coming next, what behavior is expected? Will it be obvious when I’m supposed to speak or listen?
How will I end the class? There probably won’t be a bell or announcements, they won’t need to pack up their stuff, so what will we do to close out our time together?
Please let me know what you’re planning and learning as you think through these and all the other questions that are coming up as we approach the school year. Ignite CSP is excited to be a resource for the educators who are on the front lines.