Teaching online has come (and stayed) for many of us, forcing adaptation. I've found that best practice continues to shift as the learning community goes through the different phases of living with our new digital platform. Some strategies that I've been finding to create more learner engagement are below. What are strategies you've found to be helpful? If you're still teaching online, are you noticing that you're having to find new ways to teach as students are very fatigued with this system?
The Meet-within-the-Meet: I have been shocked at how students in even a small class will suddenly break their silence if provided a way to talk without anyone else listening. I will often have 4 or 5 students left in class with questions and they won't speak up until I make a second meet and tell them they can jump in there. And then they will one-by-one ask their questions!
Creating Google Slides to go with each lesson for students to use again independently, for those with internet issues, and for those with different learning needs (whether visual learners, ELL students, or even those with processing issues.)
Encouraging students to use the chat function rather than unmuting as they seem far more likely to type than to talk.
Allowing students to keep their videos off. Internet issues are real. As are the many reasons you might not want teachers and peers seeing you in your bedroom at 8:00 am. I do sometimes ask for videos to be turned on for the start of class or for a discussion, but most of the time I let students decide for themselves.
On a similar note, allowing students to sign off before class is over. Students' self-management doesn't change much whether they're on a muted, video-less Meet or not. (I've had students accidentally show me that they're playing games, watching movies, or texting during class!) Rather, creating an environment where students a. feel comfortable to ask questions/get feedback b. have a variety of ways to do that and c. are given time to work on their art during the day seems to be the winning combination - caveat of course is, for me, with these students, in this school community.
Asking everyone to answer simple conversation questions like "What was your last meal?" or "What's a good show you've watched recently?" or "Do you normally remember your dreams? And if yes, any you want to share?"
For small, speciality classes I've created a schedule where one week a month we do one-on-one workshops to make sure students are getting personal attention and can go in depth about their course elements. This only works for my IB Visual Arts classes, but it works very well. We either do 20 minute or 30 minute sessions!
For art, rather than having each assignment be a new project, some assignments are small, simple, skills. This creates a "breather" for students and allows those who are newer to the subject or specific skill to practice before trying a piece. Normally, this would just be part of my art class as an opening or a warm-up, but in attempts not to overwhelm students, I'm making it a separate digital assignment.
Checking in with students, by either asking or noticing how many students are behind on turning in work. "Assume good intentions," and slow the pace down if the majority of students need a break. To do this, I will either create a fun, but simple mini-lesson or will give them a bonus day to finish a more complicated assignment. Student feedback has been positive, though there are a few who want more art and more projects. Perhaps I can start offering 10 minute one-one-one workshops for those students during those classes...hmm!?