In the modern world, we are just starting to understand the true importance of mental health and wellbeing. Resilience, happiness, and relationships with others are all profoundly affected by it.
So now, in a challenging time, faced with a totally new way of being educated, student wellbeing must be one of the educator’s top priorities.
So how can we look after student wellbeing during the turbulent times of remote learning? Here are our tips:
Focus on education and enjoyment
Exams have been canceled, tests suspended and some districts are even banning graded assignments. The message behind this is clear – now is not the time to focus on cramming facts.
In a time of high stress, education is a joy and an escape. Ramping up the volume of work may seem like the solution to keeping everyone busy and preventing students from getting behind. But more work is often just that: more work. As well as being a contributor to anxiety, high work levels can actually prevent students from digging into subjects of interest or stopping to fully understand aspects they find difficult.
Instead, try to be mindful of pacing and emphasize quality thinking tasks that allow students to get creative or really delve into topics. This is a great opportunity to teach students how to self-motivate, take charge of their own learning and find out what really inspires them.
Make time for check-ins and conversations
Lockdowns and shut-ins make us realize how social humans really are. We miss hugs, lunch with friends and casual conversation with classmates. It is essential that we try to replicate some of this social time as much as possible during school closures.
Reliable and regular video calls (or phone calls if internet access is an issue) are a good way to bridge isolation and make sure your students are okay during remote learning. Here are our video call tips:
- Classwide video calls: It will be messy, loud and likely go off track – just like the normal classroom! Get your whole class on a video call, preferably with cameras on, to remind everyone that they are in this together, discuss any relevant news and thoughts about the day. Try to organize a class call at least once a week, more often if possible, to continue to nurture student support relationships and give everyone some social time to look forward to.
- Individual student calls: Video call your students for individual check-ins. This can be a good opportunity to see how they learn on their own and how their home life impacts them.
- Make time for conversation: We are all busy and have packed schedules, but try to take some time every day for non-work related conversations. If it helps prep some questions to ask your students about how they are feeling and any broader fears or anxieties they have.
- Make time for silliness: Laughter is the best medicine! Finish every call with a competition for best silly face, dad joke or anecdote.
Make sure students are safe
Online learning, and the technology that enables it, are powerful tools – but they are not risk-free. It’s important to equip our students with the skills they will now need to be safe online and behave as considerate digital citizens.
- Introduce or remind students of Digital Citizenship: Digital Citizenship provides an easy to follow set of standards for safe and responsible online behavior. Introduce the 9 pillars to some of your lessons to help your students protect themselves and others while studying online.
- Take students through your school’s e-safety policies: Remind everyone of the school’s e-safety policy. This should outline clear expectations for how to work online.
- Inform parents: There really is no better way to ground your students in the basics of cybersecurity than getting parents on board. They too may want some education on how to keep their kids safe online, or may even be unaware of the risks. Send them some resources or have a quick call to help them keep their kids safe.
- Be aware of online bullying: Sadly a pervasive and damaging issue, it’s one that needs to be prepared for as classrooms become 100% online. Devise a policy for dealing with incidents and lookout for signs of it happening so that it can be stopped.
Look after yourself and your colleagues
Students are not the only ones dealing with stressful changes and challenges. Make sure to look after yourself, your loved ones and check in on your colleagues. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and working yourself too hard will make it only more difficult for you to care for your students.
👋 Learn more
New to remote learning and need some tips and advice from other educators in the same position? Check out the Kami Remote Learning blog.