By Caitlin Krause
Students feel our sense of presence, connection and care as teachers, and this greatly impacts their learning, whether it’s in an online space or in a physical classroom. When moving classes online, we might naturally get so caught up in the technology (Is the platform stable? Is there latency? Can everyone hear and see each other?) that we’re a bit frazzled and frantic in our energy instead of present, calm and receptive.
What should be a joyful coming together feels stressful, and our impulse might be to jump straight to the expected topic at hand or content. We might forget that connection trumps content—and, in fact, connection is what will give that content context and meaning. So, it’s a necessary base. As online community hosts, our role now involves inviting everyone to our virtual home. What is our greeting at the threshold? How are we sending messages, implicit and explicit, that “All Are Welcome”?
Continue reading “3 Ways to “Get Grounded” at the Beginning of Hosting Your Online Session”
By Catherine Conley
Today we finished our third week of online classes, and my last class was the worst online teaching experience I’ve had so far. Usually being in this class is like being on Family Feud. The students encourage each other with chorus of “good job,” “great answer,” “you’re on fire,” “sooo good,” and the like. It is a mixed class of juniors and seniors, but they don’t discriminate. They cheer on all. It is usually such a joy to be with them.
But not today. Instead, they were whiny and negative. There were the regular complaints that they are tired and there is too much work, but it was more than that. They are beginning to feel the effects of staying home so much. They don’t feel well; their backs hurt; their curiosity is dulled. It didn’t help that there was a bit of a tech glitch too so that the question I wanted to post on the Classroom had to be retyped. And of course, it was a long one, so they were waiting while I prepped it. I tried to talk to them as I recreated their assignment, but as most of them do not use their mics and prefer to write their comments in the chat box, I couldn’t see those while I was typing on a different tab. And then, wow, did they misread the passage.
Continue reading “Salvaging a Failed Lesson”
As we enter a new age of education in the world of COVID 19, I am thinking about how to help my students not only continue with their English literature education, but also to process what they, and we as a nation and a world, are going through right now. Isn’t that why we teach literature and history? To make sense of ourselves and our world? To that end, I assigned a time capsule project. (Thanks here to Karli Hart who generously shared her project worksheet with me and many others through an English teachers Facebook page. I made some changes to her original document to suit my particular students, but it is largely hers.) My students will now write three times per week either about the virus, what’s happening in the world, what’s happening in their homes, how they feel, or what they do to escape thinking about the virus.
Continue reading “Do Your Homework: Write Alongside your Students”
As I write this*, thousands of educators and administrators — as well as students and their caregivers — are all settling into a new reality. It is a reality that means they will likely not be back in physical classrooms in the foreseeable future. It is a reality in which they do not know for sure whether any kind of online learning will be able to replace mandated hours of classroom time.
That said, some practices for teaching writing can be of help to writers at any time, and especially now, in these uncertain times. I offer these suggestions, knowing that my K-12 colleagues are facing a different reality than my colleagues at community colleges and universities, and that issues of equity and access are still pressing across many educational contexts. Not all students have access to technology, and others face different challenges.
Continue reading “In the Time of Corona: Teaching Writers in Uncertain Times”