Wired Together: 

Thanks to our current Covid circumstances, having some sort of a presence online is the need of a day. For 10 years now, Social Media has been teaching us the etiquette, the do’s and the don’ts of our virtual existence. But this new normal is seeing us get on the internet each day to perform a multitude of activities.

Some of us might be teaching for a living, some of us are engaging with our team members through screens and the majority of us are doing the bulk of our shopping through virtual shoppers and shopping carts – truly the everyday heroes in these frightening times who’ve chosen to stay on the physical forefront. <insert link here>

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Teaching in a Virtual World:

Engaging online with anyone, be it friends, family or strangers needs a special understanding of how humans are wired. And if that online engagement is with a student, it’s more important to understand how to be effective and inspiring educator. Let’s first look at some basic teaching principles that hold true whether children are online or physically in a classroom.

Good teachers can impart education while preserving the child’s:

Imagination, Wonder and Creativity

Good teachers can impart education while raising the bar on the child’s:

Grit, Resilience, Collaboration, Perseverance, Goal setting and Decision making.

Bottom line, a good educator can enable the child to think for themselves, while:

1. Learning the concepts and gathering the intelligence &
2. The actual task of performing problem solving.

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Barrier to Entry: 

Sometimes, there seems to be a high threshold for some kids to get engaged and feel connected to the topic of conversation. Then there’s the added disadvantage of not having face to face interactions that enable and foster deep meaningful teacher student relationships. That’s when exhibiting compassion and deep empathy on our part as teachers is important.

So much of our children’s’ free time currently is spent online due
a. the lack of freedom to venture outdoors too often and
b. because of the social distancing protocols.

During such times, attending a class or a lecture can tend to become “yet another task to do online”.

Then there can be connectivity issues and confusion about the instructions children are receiving. When they’re unable to follow along, children become acutely aware of their short comings and shut themselves down.

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Tips to Inspire and Engage in any Classroom:

  1. At the beginning of the class, ask them if they’ve any appropriate jokes or riddles they can share.
  2. Give them words of wisdom to hold onto. For example, the rules of Engagement for a class can be 3 P’s. Something like – Precision, Patience, Practice. Ask them to repeat them. Make strict and boring rules seem like kind reminders.
  3. Before diving in deep, give them basic highlights of the concepts they’re going to be learning during the class.
  4. IMPORTANT: Within the first few minutes, give them a task or a trivia question about the topic that they can accomplish easily in the first few minutes of the class. The immediate gratification that this stimulates sets the ground for children for curiosity about the topic so they’re ready to explore further.
  5. Make every new concept interactive. Double down on how animated you can make a scenario or a thought exercise.
  6. Give them brain breaks by asking them to stretch and stand up for 10 seconds or so.
  7. Ask questions and encourage them to ask away. Use the inquiry method to engage instantly.
  8. Mix explicit instruction, along with timebound tasks like small group discussions and self-reflection work.
  9. Engage in anecdotes and storytelling, so students are less distracted and this is especially important while teaching online lessons, as there’s a great chance for readily available visual distractions.

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Supporting Student Learning:

No matter, what the curriculum or content, it must be around a human centered approach to learning. When children work on building something out of nothing, their sense of what is possible expands. When they showcase an outcome that even as educators we can’t predict, it can be a learning moment for all parties involved.

Remember a good teacher teaches like rain fall. It touches every one of us the same way. A good teacher understands why boredom happens. It’s because a child is overchallenged or underchallenged.

Here are a few tips to support student learning:

  1. Use language that focuses on the tasks that are yet to be done, rather than on the student abilities.
  2. Make the lesson accessible to everyone. Remember that not everyone learns the same way and at the same rate.
  3. IMPORTANT: Allow children to share and showcase their work. When children have a chance to share what they’ve learnt, its both inspiring and empowering.
  4. Provide educational resources to enable self-inquiry and curiosity towards problem solving and growth.
  5. Encourage them to complete their homework and hold them accountable to the value of their efforts and actions.

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A Final Note To Teachers:

85% of the online content consumed in the world right now is from videos. So, making a classroom as animated and lively as possible is the sure shot way to go about creating a fun and growth oriented experience for each and every child.

Periodically, ask them how you can do better, what they like about the classes and what they don’t like about them. Leave them feeling like in control of their own learning and that the educators in their lives actually care enough to seek feedback. And that’s an empowering feeling for any child.

Inspite of our best efforts, there are social skills like empathy and conflict resolutions that are only learnt through physically interacting with others. Touch and sensory exchange is necessary for emotional and social development. But a teacher who can convey to his or her students the value of what they are capable of can win hearts and engagement even in a virtual classroom.

And teachers, here’s a secret. After a class, if you’ve felt some element of magic had happened, be assured that your kids felt it too.

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