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Global Education

Maintaining Classroom Community Online

Remote learning is a new reality for educators around the world as many people stay home to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. As you get started, you may be wondering how you will keep students connected and happy while learning from a distance and using digital tools. Here are several ways you can maintain a classroom community while you support your students emotionally and instructionally during a prolonged period of online learning.

Re-establish a daily classroom routine

We know that young children are feeling the impact of uncertainty and isolation while at home. Re-establishing a routine that connects them to each other and your classroom community will go a long way to helping your students cope. Your students want to hear from you and be encouraged as they learn! A daily video or email can let students know that you miss them and are there to support them.

Some teachers are choosing to maintain morning meeting time through digital platforms for consistency and to check in with students to see how they are doing. Through Google Classroom, routines can easily be established with your students that encourage them to check in each day for assignments and updates from you. There are features within Google Classroom that allow you to connect with students in one place by leaving video messages and agendas for learning.

Reward students for their efforts

During these uncertain times, it’s important to meet your students where they are and help them maintain perspective. Try to reward all students for their effort rather than just for completion, and recognize them during video messages or group calls with other students. Many factors could limit a students’ ability to complete an assignment, which can be discouraging for them when those factors are out of their control. Make sure that you recognize their efforts when you interact with them to encourage them and give them a sense of pride in whatever work they are able to complete.

For younger students who respond well to feedback through a classroom-wide behavior management tool, utilizing Class Dojo for assignments can be a way to reward good behavior from home. After each assignment, and with parental permission, ask for students to share a picture of themselves with their work. Then, upload the photos to your digital tool of choice, encouraging students to cheer one another on when they finish their work each week.

Encourage social-emotional learning and connection

Your students may be struggling with how to express how they are feeling. A weekly journaling assignment with specific prompts would help students process some of their emotions, while also providing them with an opportunity to practice writing skills. For younger students, record yourself reading a short chapter book aloud and start conversations about the characters that connect them to what students may be struggling with at home during the current crisis. At the end of each chapter, highlight the positive characteristics of the characters (such as self-awareness, social awareness, and responsible decision-making), and tie those characteristics in with what your students are experiencing.

Students are also accustomed to being with one another during the school day and building social-emotional skills through daily interactions in the classroom. Find ways to continue those interactions from home. FlipGrid is another tool that allows you to pose a question or prompt to students and collect their video responses, and there is a chat feature for students without access to a recording tool at home. Students can view their classmates’ submissions, respond to them, and learn from their peers.

Bring the world to your students

Looking for a few ways to continue sharing #globaleducation-themed lessons with your students? There are many online resources that create opportunities for your students to stay curious about the world around them even when they are restricted to the four walls of their home.

Tools like Zoom allow users to use a background image of their choosing. Consider using a background from an area of focus from your global curriculum, or from a city in another part of the world, and tell students a story about the place as an introduction to a new subject or for an activity prompt.

In addition, many museums are offering free virtual tours! Your students can explore famous sites like The Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and more. This allows for endless lessons around art and culture, famous artists, and the rich history of cultures around the world. Discover the full list of museums participating here.

Are you interested in connecting with other educators for more ideas about how to make remote learning work for you? Join our community of practice, United We Teach, for weekly video check-ins and active discussion threads for educators that encourage you to get the support you need as a teacher, too.

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