The chaos caused by the coronavirus has affected individuals in just about every industry. Now, with most of the country’s non-essential workers under strict stay-at-home orders, many companies have shifted their operational strategy, staying afloat by having their employees work from home and communicate through a variety of team collaboration tools. This new reality has also changed the education system, and now, many educators are educating students and reaching out to them and their parents online.
How COVID-19 is Impacting Teachers and Educators
While some schools and universities have canceled classes completely until the next school year or semester, others are having their teachers and professors conduct class through a combination of online video sessions, such as Zoom, and independent study.
For some educators at the college level, a form of distance learning or eLearning was already in place, or taking classes online was a relatively easy adjustment due to the age of the students and the nature of the class. For primary and secondary education teachers (grades K-12), the adjustment has been a bit more challenging.
Children in the primary and secondary education system are very much used to a routine; any deviation from this can cause anxiety (they can also sense the unease in their parents, and hear frightening statistics on the television or online, heightening the trauma). So, how can educators make the best of a bad situation, and help students and parents weather the storm?
What Can Teachers Do Outside of the Classroom?
Here are some things that educators can do during these unusual times to support students and their parents (and keep themselves occupied).
For Educators Engaging in Distance Teaching
- Establish a routine. Predictable routines are very important, especially to the younger set, as it helps maintain a sense of psychological safety. By sticking to one, teachers can reassure students that, despite everything that is going on, an adult in their lives is still capable of offering structure.
- Make lessons easily digestible. Learning remotely through a virtual classroom and having fewer direct interactions with teachers and peers can make assignments feel overwhelming, especially if they require a lot of instruction. Break lessons down into smaller bites, which will also cut back on instruction, and encourage students to ask clarifying questions live or via email.
- Be understanding. It’s important to remember that every child has a different home life situation, and some may be less than ideal, making it difficult to maintain academics; in addition, they may be embarrassed to discuss their personal life. So, educators should communicate that regardless of the challenges, students’ efforts are appreciated.
- Hold a weekly “recess.” Similar to the virtual happy hours that many companies are having (minus the cocktails), this is a time when students can log on (with their teacher hosting) to share stories and have some fun with their friends. You might want to have some virtual party games planned; we found some fun ideas on Love, Peace, and Tiny Feet.
- Assign group work. Put students together in small groups to work on projects or assignments together online or by phone. This helps them feel connected to others and gets them brainstorming together.
For Educators Not Actively Teaching
- Email your students. Let them know that even though school or classes have been canceled, you are still there for them.
- Create a community discussion board. Students have left behind a lot more than academics; suddenly, there’s no more sports, theater, art, choir, etc. Creating an online community discussion board can give them a moderated place to talk with one another until class is back in session.
- Take to social media. Many parents are struggling with homeschool teaching. As a teacher, you have a lot of knowledge to share that can help! Many teachers are taking to social media offering their support to parents by offering guidance and practical advice in their area of expertise, linking to teaching resources, and more.
- Hold webinars. Have the social distancing blues? Create a YouTube channel and create information lessons in your area of expertise to keep educating students who are stuck at home. You can also create live webinars through a variety of platforms, teaching on a subject for a half hour and then taking questions.
- Stay positive. When addressing students or parents in any form of communication, stay positive. Use wording such as, “When we return in the fall…” can help put them at ease.
The Importance of Student and Parent Surveys
Many teachers are trying to navigate uncharted territory while educating students online, so it doesn’t hurt to have a little bit of direction! To get direction, educators may want to consider sending out student and parent online surveys. These surveys can gauge just how well this “experiment in distance learning” is going and what can be done to improve things.
Questions an educator might consider asking are:
- Are you satisfied with the school’s response to the coronavirus crisis?
- What can teachers do during the COVID-19 crisis to help you/your child?
- Do you feel you have the necessary support and resources you need to effectively [study from home/homeschool your child] during the coronavirus crisis?
- Do you think your peers are engaged during virtual classroom sessions?
- What could be done to improve the virtual classroom experience?
- What do you miss most about physically attending class?
Create Your Next Education Survey with SurveyLegend!
Anxious to hear how your students and their parents are getting along during this unusual time? Create a student or parent feedback survey with SurveyLegend (you can view one of our Parental Support Survey Templates crafted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education here to get ideas on how to create your own).
Our pre-designed surveys are easy to create and easy on the eyes, and they’re responsive so they’ll adjust to your smaller, at-home screens and even smartphones. Get started with SurveyLegend for free today and then upgrade while taking advantage of our discounted pricing for students and teachers, up to 35% off!