Adjusting To Entirely New Online Learning Schedules
2020 has catapulted us headfirst into online learning – so much for the theories of a hybrid or staggered approach. Almost overnight, educators had to adjust their training methods and materials for remote delivery, and students had to self-motivate and organize like never before.
These disruptions are merely a distraction, though. The WHO is warning that the threat to our mental health and well-being may be the pandemic’s most enduring impact. Humans are social animals, and it’s not natural for us to live such isolated lives. How do we deal with and overcome feelings of disconnection and anxiety?
Creating Rapport With Learners
For educators, the traditional and mostly subconscious ways of creating rapport with learners have disappeared. Matthew Lynch notes how important it is to establish rapport online to enable students to feel comfortable enough to benefit from the classes. He offers some practices to include in your online lessons, such as addressing students individually, remembering to smile, and praising frequently.
Lynch’s recommendation to include casual talk and games is in line with a 2016 study by Professor Jason Dockter that addresses the problem of “presence” in distance learning. He also recommends providing a frequent variety of communication opportunities for teachers and students.
As it seems like we will continue being online for the foreseeable future, educators should keep in mind the extent to which classroom and playground activities serve to socialize children and adolescents. This might justify content adjustment for online teaching for these age groups. You can look at some of the Emotional Intelligence apps that help children develop their social skills.
We should also remain mindful of our social interaction requirements and openly acknowledge how the challenges we face are making us feel. Learning Management Systems (LMS), like Pedagogue, are enabling engagement between educators across the world. These platforms are designed to be online learning hubs that provide everything from online classrooms to resource libraries. They are overlaid with social media features that allow professionals to collaborate with and support each other.
Creating a Dedicated Workspace
Part of the stress imposed by pandemic lockdowns is the blurring of work and home spaces. There is no “downtime” from work pressure when it sits on the dining room table. For those sharing the dining room table with partners and children, the distractions during work hours can be downright exhausting.
Creating a dedicated workspace is a luxury not everyone can afford, but for those who can get a “zone” by themselves, be diligent about restricting your time there to work hours. Introducing structure can help ease anxiety in times of crisis.
Lastly, beware of digital fatigue – both your own and your students’. Take time away from the screen between classes. Prescribe physical exercise and non-digital reading. Students have been shown to prefer printed textbooks, and these textbooks are healthier for them.
Be kind to yourself and others – everyone is learning how to navigate this strange new world.