Celebrating the Remote Learning Heroes
I wake up to teach each morning, excited to hear my students voices and to teach the lessons for the day. I love every moment with them and I think the world of these students. They really are little super heroes, but do I tell them that enough?
It was brought up at a staff meeting by multiple staff members this week how are our students are super heroes for engaging in a learning setting that we would have never imagined. Just waking up, signing in and listening is something that should be celebrated. But of course, we have to expect more from them and I am delighted by what they show me each day. My students are coming to school each day in a virtual setting, meeting deadlines and participating more than I have ever seen in my seven years of teaching. Just this week alone, they handed in their final copies of their MVP 0f 2020 essays, many of them writing five or more pages about their selected person. Six of my students even wanted to learn about MLA citations and how to format a works cited page. These are things that will help them so much in the future and I was so excited to teach them about that. They also worked hard on their financial literacy final project- coming up with a budget for an imaginary person, looking at how to buy a car and selecting between various interest rates as well as looking up how to save for local universities. Most of my 33 students handed in both of these projects this week and were so excited to celebrate afterwards.
Every week we do student shout-outs and yesterday, I made a “wordle” (mashup of student names) to celebrate each and every one of them. For showing up, but also, for doing so much more than that. I know for some students, the challenging situation we are in right now makes it hard for them to participate in daily lessons. One of my most engaged students told me the other day, “I don’t know how I am doing it. I have the whole world at my finger tips but I am expected to sit and listen to lessons each day. I have to avoid distractions with nobody on the other side of the screen to hold me accountable. I do not know how much longer I can do this.” What an honest statement from my student. My response was yes, what a challenging task! But imagine completing this year and having the skill to avoid distractions and to be responsible for your work without I suppose there isn’t anybody there to remind you to stay on task like there would be in the physical classroom. I encouraged my students to think about all of the things they will be able to accomplish in the future with this new found responsibility. That independence will take them all the way through their academic career.
It is also important for me to remember that they still need to engage with peers, so I have been making breakout rooms each day in a variety of subjects. This is great as well because they have another student to chat with. I love popping into the breakout rooms and hearing the conversations (all on task?!) with students they have never met in real life.
These students are so resilient and they truly are my heroes. I know it is easy to get frustrated with the lack of output from some students, but in the physical classroom, it may have been the same thing. In an online setting, it is just more noticeable. All we can do is continue to encourage our students and remember to celebrate their success, no matter how small. Always try to remember that as challenging as it is for us educators, it is even more challenging for our kids- the remote learning heroes.