I often try to put myself in my students shoes and think about how I would have felt as a young student learning online during a pandemic.
Personally, I learned remotely as an adult when completing my Master of Professional Education degree. But I cannot confidently compare my experience with the experience of these young learners. I chose to learn remotely, I had access to the tools I needed and am privileged to be able to seek out additional information and necessary resources for myself.
I think back to being that kid who was a perfectionist.
I only ever asked questions quietly to my teachers, in constant fear of looking like I didn’t know what I was doing. I would not raise my hand unless I was confident I knew the answer.
I definitely talked (a lot) to my friends during class time despite being asked not to. But, I did not take risks in front of my entire class when I felt unsure, stuck or confused.
I always offer help to students in such a way that attempts to empower them to ask for it. While this is ideal for those students who wish to voice their concerns, it leaves behind those who are hesitant to take risks or those who aren’t sure of what questions to ask to receive the help they need. I empathize with those students who are unlikely to raise their hand in the physical classroom and admit uncertainty.
Fast forward to 2020/2021 and online learning. Now, students are joined together on a Google Meet, sitting there at home where their family is likely listening, their classmates are listening, and their classmates’ families are listening. What a terrifying way to put the spotlight on yourself when it’s the thing you wish to avoid the most.
I decided one day I would try an exit ticket online to give students a voice. I have used these in the classroom for many reasons, including checking for understanding, mental health check ins, or as a way for students to ask questions. I created a quick exit ticket on Google Forms (where an exit ticket template exists already by the way!) and sent it off to my students.
The response was amazing. The very first time I tried it while occasional teaching, I received responses from students who I had not yet heard from in the large group environment of virtual instruction. What kept me coming back to using these was the quality of responses, the honesty of responses, and the vulnerability of responses.
Here are some exit ticket questions/conversation starters that I have found successful with students, even as an Occasional Teacher:
- What is one thing you want me to know about you?
- Tell me one thing that helps you learn.
- What helps you to focus/listen while learning?
- How can I support your learning?
- Tell me something you wish I knew.
- What is your favourite class and why?
- How are you feeling today?
- What questions do you have for me?
- What questions do you have about today’s lesson?
- What is one important thing you learned today?
- What can I do to help you with this task?