A little over two weeks ago, our schools and lives, much like a computer system, crashed and was struck by a virus that not only impacted one person, but people all over the world. The onset of COVID-19 has caused us to do more than reimagine our schools as we’ve had to re-image the way we teach and learn.
Ready or not, COVID-19 has forced change into a system that has sometimes resisted change, especially when there is not proper communication, a timetable to prepare, or professional development to ensure staff is properly trained.
For those of us who have become accustomed to what we may refer to as a “normal” school setting equipped with classrooms, individual desks, books, in person student/peer contact – we now must find new ways to engage our students from our home offices behind our computer screens.
Parent Involvement has also taken a twist as we must now provide parents with support on how they can become real partners in their child’s education as we will rely on them to ensure that students have everything they need in their new virtual learning space to have a successful experience.
There’s good news! Just as there are steps we can take to combat a computer virus; these same steps can assist us as we grow as leaders and educators while providing our students with a successful learning experience. Check out these steps below:
Step 1: Disconnect from the Internet
Take some time to breathe and perform a self- assessment. Prior to setting up classes or conducting classes, make sure you are mentally ready for the challenge ahead. Check your attitude for any negative emotions or feelings toward this situation so that you can approach your new way of teaching with a positive mindset. Nothing gets done if you are spending your energy blaming and complaining. Take some time and look for all the amazing opportunities that await you in this new teaching and learning format. Remember "If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." - Wayne Dyer
Step 2: Reboot Computer in Safe Mode
Take some time to reboot and consider new ways to engage learners from behind a computer screen. Set up a room in your home which will become your virtual classroom. Make sure the room you select has good lighting and that your background is appealing to the eye and free of unnecessary clutter so that students can focus on you and your message. Prepare and organize your new learning space just as you would prepare for the first day of school. Have all materials on hand and ready to go!
Step 3: Update your software, browser and operating system
And finally take the time to prepare learners by giving them an introduction to their new way of learning by doing the following:
1. Prior to classes, perform a tutorial with students and parents providing them with tips for organizing their new learning space, supplies they’ll need, and practice time for using the program your district has selected to host classes.
2. If the program your district has selected has a platform that will allow you to post interactive discussions, be sure to post an introductory message and encourage students to respond. This is a great way for students to test their voice while creating a safe virtual discussion forum.
3. Provide students and parents with a weekly overview of what they can expect to learn as well as materials they’ll need each day to ensure they are prepared for the week ahead. Let your students and parents know what days or timeframes you will be available for questions or other needs.
4. Schedule IEP Meetings (Individualized Education Platforms) for parents and/or students that may need a little extra attention setting up learning space, using the computer, or other needs. * You could team up with teachers (or other leaders) to conduct these seminars with parents and students outside of your classroom who may have the same needs.
5. Log on to your virtual classroom at least 10 -15 minutes early to be ready for class and prepared to trouble shoot any problems that may arise.
6. With each lesson consider the age group of your students and have activities/exercises prepared to keep them engaged by using a variety of activities, creating a blend of traditional online learning styles with newer, more collaborative audio and visual tools. Working with a mix of activities makes the content more interesting and exciting, increasing student engagement for both you and the students.
7. Remember to be upbeat and bring positive energy! Like the virus, our energy is contagious, and we will be able to come out of this better on the other side if we can maintain a positive attitude.
Our team at the Energy Bus for Schools Leadership Journey is here to support you as well. Please visit our website for FREE webinars at www.energybusschools.com
You may also contact us for virtual workshops/trainings directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sending lots of positive energy your way,
The Energy Bus for Schools Leadership Journey