ACE hosted the 3rd and final SEL Summit Series last week, bringing educators from around the state of Alabama together for a round table discussion about student mental health as we embark on a different kind of school year. Three themes emerged from this series – how to bolster communication, community and a sense of belonging while working virtually?
With many schools starting the year virtually and others forging ahead with in-person instruction and the potential to go virtual, we’re heading into a state of unknowns, so ACE has pulled together a number of resources to help educators successfully navigate throughout the year and keep students engaged.
Explore your platform to see if students are allowed to create their own profiles. If so, allow them to personalize them as they see fit.
CHECK IN WITH STUDENTS AND CAREGIVERS REGULARLY
TUtilize a communications platform like Seesaw to communicate with students and caregivers. Even short phone calls or texts with the student/parent can establish a sense of belonging and support. But don’t forget to make it personal!
When students enter the virtual room, always greet them by name.
HOST SOCIAL GATHERINGS FOR STUDENTS
Start with hosting an interactive social gathering for students to build community. This is also a great opportunity to introduces them to their new online platform that will be used throughout the school year. Facilitators should communicate to students that it’s okay if they don’t want to show their whole face or that they have the option to turn the camera off until they’re comfortable. These gatherings should be fun and light-hearted. Encourage students to introduce family pets or members or to show off something from their “new classroom.”
CREATE A PLAYLIST TO PLAY WHEN STUDENTS ARRIVE IN ROOM
And make it available on Spotify for students to access.
BEGIN EACH MONDAY WITH A CHECK-IN
Ask students how they’re doing each Monday using the “rose/thorn” format or have them express their week with a meme or an emoji.
ARRANGE A VIRTUAL SPIRIT WEEK
Arrange a virtual spirit week and encourage students to dress up by theme each day. This is a great opportunity to teach rules, expectations and online learning etiquette, like turning your mute button on.
MODEL VULNERABILITY AND SHARE UNCERTAINTIES
Educators should model vulnerability and be open with their own uncertainties as a way to encourage students to do the same.
INCLUDE CAREGIVERS IN THE TEACHING/LEARNING EXPERIENCE
eEncourage caregivers to be as involved as they possibly can in the learning and teaching experience and to share what they’re doing. This really solidifies the online community.
END EACH CLASS DAY WITH A CLOSING
Have students express a takeaway or a question via chat or a Google doc if time is short.
Pulled from the following resources: