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Video conferencing & distance learning ideas to liven up lockdown

We toiled through Twitter to find some of the coolest, simplest strategies teachers are using around the world.

Structure your video conferences, or Zoom chats, to avoid audio issues and big groups. Get creative with forms and polls and shared cloud documents where productive discussions can take place. Create a system of ‘thumbs up if you have a question’ or other hand signals to avoid too much chatter. If you are using Zoom, get friendly with the ‘mute all’ and ‘unmute’ functions.

 

Consider hosting a Zoom or Skype meeting with parents to clue them in on what their children can do while e-learning and what parents shouldn’t expect. The last thing families need is to feel overwhelmed by trying to recreate a classroom environment in their homes, and many parents will be totally unfamiliar with the curriculum anyway. Managing expectations at home will dramatically help your learners engage and mitigate anxiety. 

 

Set yourself up with a work zone! The environment you are working in will model how your learners set up their own work environments. This could be a good task to set. Having a specific space at home for e-learning will help with ‘transition time’ so you and your learners can mentally prepare for teaching/learning and find it easier to focus. 

 

Encourage your class community to maintain productive social bonds. Teachers online have been encouraging students to share photos of their pets and log activities they are doing at home to keep active or practice self-care. There are different apps and tools that allow this but it could also just be the first thing you talk about during a video call. Accountability is a powerful tool when warding off distraction and if students know they need to share what they did for their daily exercise or activity they will be less likely to spend an extra 10 minutes playing Animal Crossing!

This one goes without saying but make use of all the new resources at your disposal on Google Classroom or whatever software your school uses. They tend to have handy student task ideas and teacher wellbeing advice too. 

Finally, remember this too shall pass! It’s a wildly challenging time for everyone but maybe this lockdown will stop us all from taking the little things for granted when we return. School communities are a little bit (maybe a lot!) in mourning at the moment  for lost routine, connection, and some children have even lost their safe space in school. We need to do everything we can to keep lines of communication open and reach out to one another. 

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