3 new pedagogical strategies for the return to class

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CHALKING THE LINE | THROUGH DEBRA MEYER | 8 MIN OF READING

As the end of pandemic distance learning comes into view, teachers should start imagining what new educational strategies and practices they will continue to develop long after face masks are obsolete.

Many educators have already explained how their teaching has fundamentally improved during the pandemic. The adaptation to distance and hybrid teaching and learning has prompted teachers to focus on what is most important as well as what is possible. For example:

I asked similar questions about the lessons to be learned from new distance learning strategies in my Crack the line post on virtual or distance education. What I was wondering out loud in this blog post was how to change the the context teaching so fast and radical could change teaching itself. Some of my thoughts included:

  • Logging in to students when they arrive at school is not an option. Will teachers continue to use new distance learning strategies to include students who are at home sick or who need to be quarantined? How could school districts integrate synchronous and asynchronous distance learning instead of snow days or “institute days”, “late starts” and “early layoffs”? In other words, what have we learned about the importance of continuous and uninterrupted educational opportunities that could be exploited?
  • Improve learning opportunities. How might teachers expand students’ learning experiences by connecting with other classrooms and people from other communities – or by bringing in experts as virtual speakers? What have teachers learned about student engagement in terms of whole class participation and how small groups work best?
  • Collaborate with families. What have teachers learned from working with families remotely about the best ways to support student learning at home? What do students and their families need to be successful in learning together and staying connected at school?
  • Improved evaluation practices. Given that so many teachers have mastered tracking student learning virtually and electronically, how can their successes help improve or replace traditional assessment practices? How do we know for sure what each student understands and can do? How can virtual tools help ensure better reviews?

Lessons learned

Three of the most important lessons from distance education represent new directions in teaching strategies that educators are still experimenting, improving and refining. These “lessons learned” remind us of what is most essential in today’s classrooms – and inspire us to look in new directions to improve our practice.

1. Improved pedagogical communication strategies

Since their first teacher preparation courses, educators have been made aware of the importance of communication: communication in the classroom with students and outside the classroom with families and colleagues. Distance teaching and learning has exposed the gaps in our communication strategies while helping us develop new and better communication skills.

When teachers went online, we had to change the way we interact with our students, colleagues and families. It immediately caused frustration and angst, but it also showed that we were not communicating optimally face to face.

Lindsay Mitchell article, “6 strategies for successful distance learningIs a great reminder of what improved communication should look like – online and face-to-face. Although she draws on her extensive teaching, mentoring and coaching experience, Mitchell advocates for an enabling environment in all contexts. These enabling environments should also include families. Improving communication as a teacher, according to Mitchell, means having authentic, familiar, straightforward, flexible, organized, and concise interactions.

Distance learning prompted educators to improve communication (written and oral) because we couldn’t trust what was familiar and easy. We have also had to increase our communication due to the evolving realities and uncertainties of the pandemic. We needed new ways to interact with our students and their families.

Now we need to bring these new and improved communication strategies back into the physical classroom.

2. Better technology integration strategies

A second lesson learned was that many educators had not fully integrated technology into their practice. The integration of technology into the classroom has been the subject of discussion for decades, but many schools and teachers weren’t ready to move away, in part due to piecemeal adoption. Like a technological integration guide on Edutopia in 2007 explained, “When the integration of technology is at its best, a child or teacher keeps thinking that they are using a technological tool – it is second nature.”

If educators have known about the integration of technology and its importance for so long, why have so many of us been caught off guard and looking for answers in emergency distance education? How prepared were our students to adapt to the virtual environment? Why don’t we connect remotely during these snowy and sick days, or provide asynchronous teaching to support the students at home? Why were so many students running out of learning technology hardware and software resources in 2020?

Teachers learned a lot about how to integrate technology, including how to solve technical difficulties and help students and their families connect online. For example, homework, instructions, and screencasting mini-lessons became necessary due to distance learning, but it was also an important and effective way to provide students and families with resources for learning. additional learning.

Teachers, who have also experienced distance learning as parents, provide important insight into the asynchronous process on how to integrate distance and asynchronous learning into the school week. Jenny pieratt does that in her April 2020 blog post on designing a flexible and asynchronous schedule. How will such flexible and asynchronous learning fit into the school week as part of school learning and homework?

3. More meaningful and inclusive participation strategies

The third and probably most difficult lesson learned in distance education was how to engage all students online.

While student engagement was a primary goal of face-to-face teaching, teachers had become accustomed to the status quo in their classrooms, with a small percentage of students participating in the majority of classroom interactions. . We used nonverbal cues, thumbs up, and other comprehension checks to tell us that everyone was actively engaged.

In moving from our physical classrooms to virtual ones, we have come to realize how difficult it is to engage every student in active participation. In response, we have created a plethora of participation strategies. Some examples include:

However, there are more important issues of when and How? ‘Or’ What students participate, and who participates, virtual or not. What will be essential for all educators in the coming year is to consider the vast and complex set of ethical issues surrounding the return of students to the classroom as the pandemic continues to impact their lives. life.

Johns Hopkins University addressed the moral complexity of school reopening in an important paper: The ethics of reopening K-12 schools: Identifying and addressing the values ​​at stake. It is “must read” for all educators.

When we think of students participating online or in a physical classroom, broader moral questions need to be raised regarding their well-being, freedom (issues of choice and privacy), and issues of justice and equity.

One of the major achievements of teaching and learning during the pandemic has been the recognition of pervasive, widespread and long-term inequalities in our education systems, from preschool to college. When students are seated at their desks, it’s easy to overlook the fact that being in the same classroom doesn’t guarantee that everyone has the same learning opportunities.

So as we return to physical classrooms that once again mask these inequalities, we need to become more ardent advocates for every student and constantly ask ourselves, “Does everyone have what they owe?” learn? And more importantly, “What does everyone need at this time and place?”

Distance learning in a pandemic has revealed how ineffective and immoral the status quo is; now we need to go back to the classroom and challenge these injustices as we get down to the task of helping every student reclaim lost learning opportunities. One way to do this is to learn from the lessons learned and make meaningful changes to our teaching practices by leveraging the most effective distance learning strategies.

Learn and refine new teaching strategies at Elmhurst University

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