As we all try to wrap our minds around teaching and learning remotely, a major concern is how to continue to connect individually with each and every student (or staff member if you are a school leader) when we are physically so far apart. I’ve brainstormed and collected a few ideas to get us started!
The good, old-fashioned phone call should not be underrated! This is a great way to connect that has gone more and more out of fashion as texting has become the norm. Plan some phone calls to students – you may be surprised at the depth your conversation may reach when all you have is each other’s speech to guide you (no emoji’s or stickers to rely on).
Sometimes an email (whether to the student’s email address or by way of a parent’s email address) is the best way to explain something, answer an in-depth question, or provide your students the opportunity to think and plan their response. Email may be the right choice for higher-level thinking questions and prompts – even when asking relationship-building questions.
I shared in a previous post how Kelsey French – a super amazing teacher at Rennell Elementary – uses Google Forms as a daily check-in with students to see how they’re doing and if there is anything they want her to know. This could easily be adapted for distance learning use. You might choose to use this form weekly to see how students are feeling and even ask if they need a video chat or phone call from you. I am using this check-in method weekly with my staff to see how they are feeling with multiple-choice options, but I always leave “other” as a choice so that they can fill in more details. Anyone that lets me know they need a call or puts “other” information down gets a personal response from me.
Another amazing teacher at Rennell Elementary, Wynter Fuller, had the brilliant idea of adapting her usual Google Form check-in with students to a Google Doc in order to enable two-way communication from afar. When she is at school, if a student indicates they are upset or need some TLC in her check-in form, she walks over and has a private conversation with them right away. This is not possible when we are learning at home, therefore, she has adapted her check-in to be a Google Doc with two columns – one side for the student to share and one side for the teacher to reply. Wynter is planning to share one Google Doc with each of her students. A place for just the two of them to write back and forth. Did anyone else keep a journal they passed back and forth with their middle school best friend? No? Just me? This totally reminds me of passing back and forth a journal with a bestie! What a neat way to connect!
Check out Wynter’s creation and click the link to make a copy and adapt for your own use!
Most of us think of flipgrid as a way to collect responses from an entire class, but you could set up a flipgrid within individual students as a way to asynchronously video chat with a student (sort of like Marco Polo) without the student needing an additional app or phone. You can check-in, ask how they’re doing, pose questions, answer questions, and all of that contact would be recorded right there for you and your student to reference if needed.
How about using Google Slides? Google slides gives you and your students the ability to use your device’s web camera to take pictures from right within Google Slides – no app smashing or detailed directions needed. Here’s what I mean:
I’m sure there are A LOT more ways that I haven’t thought of. How do you plan to individually connect with your students while we are teaching and learning remotely? I would love to hear your ideas and plans in the comments!