Hey friends! I am just a few days into the “new normal” and boy, the memes don’t lie!
“Teachers should be paid $1 billion dollars a week”
“Homeschool day 1: Wondering how I can get this kid transferred out of my class.”
Being at home and homeschooling my own child is (dare I say) much more difficult than being in my classroom of 25 students! If you are like me, you are trying to adjust to a new schedule and the idea of social distancing…and it’s not easy!
This morning, my daughter woke up to a video from her first-grade music teacher. Her message was a simple hello accompanied by a five minute read aloud. I don’t think my daughter could have been happier if she won a million dollars!
It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes.
“Sometimes the thing your students need most has nothing to do with what’s on your lesson plan.”Author Unknown
As a middle school teacher, I have been so consumed about how I was going to instruct my students online that I almost forgot to check in with their social & emotional well being. Our students need to know that we care for them and that they are still important to us.
I wanted to take a minute and share five tools that you can use to connect with your students and show them how much you care!
1. Google Classroom
If your school uses Google Classroom, then you are already connected! This morning, I created an announcement to check in on my kiddos.
My message went something like this:
Hello everyone! I have been thinking about you and wanted to check in to see how you were doing! I hope that you are staying healthy and washing your hands! It is hard to practice social distancing, but I have been reading books, watching movies, and playing games with my daughter and husband. Yesterday, we went on a ten-mile family bike ride to get some exercise and fresh air. Please take a minute to hit reply and let me know how you are doing and if there is anything you need!
Surprisingly, my inbox filled up very quickly with hellos!
Tip: Be sure that your settings allow your students to comment, or post and comment.
2. Flip Grid
Flip grid is an awesome program that you can use to record videos and connect with students. This afternoon, my husband recorded himself playing frisbee golf in the backyard and sent it along with a message to his students. It was a great way to make the personal connection that kids are craving. Students have been responding all day with videos showing how they are passing time at home.
3. Class Dojo
My daughter’s elementary school uses Class Dojo to communicate. This afternoon, she received a picture of her teacher with her puppy. My daughter couldn’t wait to respond and let her know that her puppy was adorable! These little gestures mean the world and help to offer a sense of security and well being.
I use the Remind app year-round to connect with students and parents. It is an easy way to share information. If you have never used remind, it is a text-based app that lets you have a one or two-way conversation with your students.
One of my favorite things about Remind is that since it is text-based, students get the messages immediately, rather than waiting for them to check their email which could take a day or two.
5. Google Voice
When I was in high school, I had a physics teacher who gave out his phone number on the first day of school in case we got stuck on our homework. As a student, I thought he was awesome. As a teacher, I can’t imagine what he was thinking! 🙂
Enter Google Voice. It gives you a new number for calling, texting, and voicemail that is completely different from your personal number. With Google Voice, you can maintain the privacy of your cell number but still have a conversation if a student gets stuck on something. There is even a do not disturb setting that would allow you to set office hours.
As we enter this strange new world of distance learning, Google Voice could be a great tool for a teacher who wants to have an open line of communication with her students. Obviously, Google Voice is not for everyone, but if it sounds interesting to you, Alice Keeler has a great blog post on using Google Voice in the classroom.
Students often will not remember what they learned, but how a teacher made them feel. Take a minute during the next few days and check in with your students and show them you care!
Are you looking for new ideas for teaching your classes online? Take a look at this blog post, “Teach Anywhere: 5 Digital Learning Tools for the Online Classroom”