Whether you are doing synchronous or asynchronous online instruction, distance learning can feel impersonal and inaccessible. But there are strategies for inclusive online teaching to help students feel a sense of connection and inclusion.
Earlier this year when governments locked down amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers around the region rushed to create sustainable virtual spaces as learning abruptly went online.
While Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams won’t feel the same as classroom face to face instruction, many of us are faced with either continued home-based learning or a blend of in-person and e-Learning as social distancing measures continue.
Once you have your students’ mobile device management for education in place, here are 6 ways we can create virtual classrooms that engage and inspire all learners.
Show that you care
A small gesture goes a long way. Start your class with a greeting and let the students see your smile. Virtual learning can still be awkward for many students. The human touch makes students feel welcome when coming to your class.
Inclusive online teaching shows that you care. Before jumping into the lesson of the day, ask them, “How are you feeling today?” E-Learning for kids can affect mental wellbeing.
If a student replies to you directly on the chat function, send them a private message to show you are listening.
Set Operational Procedures
You are in control of the virtual learning space. Mobile device management for education is paramount. Anticipate and prevent distractions in the virtual classroom by setting clear rules and expectations and that includes mobile device management. Best practices are to communicate your expectations at the start of each lesson, each day.
Be concise and highlight behaviors that directly affect everyone’s virtual learning experience, such as “Use the chat function to type questions” or “Mute your microphone during presentations.”
If your students intentionally break your rules so that it interrupts the virtual learning experience, remove them from the virtual learning environment, and contact their parents to check that everyone is clear on the expectations.
What’s the plan?
A virtual classroom can be a challenge in education structure and organization. Set the day’s agenda by sharing a learning target so that everyone knows what to expect from the lesson. As attention tends to be shorter in virtual learning spaces, be mindful of how long you can hold the attention of your group, providing breaks as necessary.
As with in-person learning, a virtual classroom with inclusive online teaching has a predictable structure that makes students feel more at ease with their learning.
Try different engagement techniques
You may or may not have the latest educational technology. Regardless of how simple or feature-rich your learning platform or video conferencing is, see what’s possible. There are creative ways to use it to engage your students.
- Students can show their thinking by sharing their screen
- Students can offer feedback to a classmate’s work over chat
- Have students read out loud to each other
- Praise good work by sharing your screen
Hold Virtual Office Hours
As with face to face classroom learning, some students need more help. Set your virtual office hours and have your door open for someone looking for some extra time with their teacher.
Incentivize your virtual office hours. One way is by issuing a weekly raffle ticket to encourage your students to seek help when they need it. At the end of the week, pick a winner!
Reach out and support families
Students and their families may be facing multiple challenges at this time. This could be a time of financial hardship for many. Is your student at home alone and looking after a younger sibling as the parents are working?
Do they have the proper devices and internet access to access e-learning? Does your learner have a quiet space where they can go to focus on their work?
Reach out and check in with your families at least once a week. Show that you care: see what their struggles are and update them on their student’s progress.
Some of your students may need more frequent check-ins at first so make time every day to reach out. Your efforts will be invaluable.
It’s possible that as the teacher you may be providing tech support to get parents and students and students online. Be patient and prepared to answer any technical questions about your learning platform. To make it easier, create a reference sheet or short explainer video.
The human touch goes a long way. Have empathy and reach out from a place of support and communicate positively: What can I do to support him? Do you have everything you need for virtual and online learning?”