Snitches get stitches is the code of the streets. This post has nothing to do with snitches or stitches, but it rhymes with glitches. The title for this blog entry feels right because I tell on my challenges with teaching online.
These days, I am learning to abandon my heavy thinking and listen to intuition. Humor is also good for your soul.
This week’s post offers teachers and parents, like yourself, advice that can help manage some of the difficulties with remote teaching, learning, and parenting.
Let's begin with the teachers.
Remote learning expands the traditional classroom walls into virtual hubs around the world. Yes, teaching online has its benefits, including convenience and the empowerment it offers students to self-regulate their learning experiences. Remote learning and teaching also present a variety of challenges.
Glitches, glitches, glitches are an inevitable aspect of teaching online. What have you experienced in these first few weeks of the Fall 2020 semester?
I have encountered my fair share of technical glitches in resuming my university responsibilities. Screen pauses and audio losses are among some of the hiccups I swallowed during my first online classes. Managing technical issues is frustrating, but I can see the light!
Yes, I know that I am en route to getting back into the groove of thinking with clarity on my feet and butt from the campus office.
Last week, I started a course for adult learners in medical school. All of the students did not pass their first semester here in Antigua. The course provides learning strategies to increase comprehension, application, and the chances of passing classes to advance their studies.
Along with three other facilitators of this course, we led the first synchronous class of the Fall 2020 term using the Microsoft Teams’ platform. During our presentation, I went through the first few PowerPoint slides without a problem. Then, one of the facilitators stopped me and said the screen paused.
I didn’t get flustered, but apologized and responded quickly with a solution.
This glitch was fixed by stopping the "share my screen" feature and exiting the PowerPoint presentation. Then, I asked the students to give me one sec to restart the screen share. The slides reloaded without a problem, and we continued for the remaining hour.
My experiences with technology and teaching online have taught me how to respond when things do not follow my lesson plans. Often, the remedy to a technical glitch is simple. More complicated challenges may require rescheduling a synchronous session or creating an asynchronous alternative.
Here are two simple strategies that you can use to avoid and remedy presentation glitches this semester.
#1 Avoid embedding video in your PowerPoint presentations.
Videos often create a large file when combined with PowerPoint slides. They require a strong internet signal to upload and download. Your students' diverse locations can interfere with their abilities to download the presentation without fault or signal interruptions. Limited bandwidths that mandate user patience is frustrating. If you must use video, send it in a separate file before the class session, or upload it to a private link on YouTube or Microsoft Stream.
Does this sound complicated? It’s not at all. Ask someone in your department for assistance. Yes, realize that you don’t know everything and get some help.
Losing your ego can help you become a better teacher. I know this from experience.
After taking my advice, explore the flipped classroom model and ask the students to come prepared to discuss the video content during your presentation.
#2 Always hit the record button!
In case you experience one of the all too familiar technical glitches, make a habit of recording your classes. Recording can protect you from losing valuable content and assist with making your lessons available for students who cannot participate live. Microsoft Teams and Zoom have built-in recording options.
Now let’s discuss parenting and remote learning.
In some weird way, we have COVID to appreciate the option of working from home. The pandemic forced us to adapt our office hours to the house. Transforming office work to living rooms and kitchen tables is not easy, but somehow we managed.
Celebrate the small wins. As parents, we need to recognize ourselves and the work we do to keep our families functioning. Take some time today and acknowledge that you made it through half a school year of virtual learning. You are better prepared than the Spring semester to assist with online education.
The islands of Antigua and Barbuda have low incidents of COVID-19 cases. We are hopeful that the social distance protocols of the islands’ schools will keep the children safe.
With my children returning to school, these last two weeks have reminded my wife and me of the hustle to leave the house every morning on time. The children arrived late to school a few times in these first two weeks! We are working on improving our morning routine.
Putting the children in school enables my wife to focus on her business, and it allows me to concentrate on my work without concerns of the children spending hours on Roblox. Due to my wife's client load, homeschooling would have interfered with her ability to meet deadlines. We decided to give the school a trial run to support our scheduling demands.
What does virtual learning look like for you this semester? I know that some schools in the US are virtual only and others use a blended approach to learning involving split schedules and online programming.
Our children’s school is using a semi blended approach this semester. They attend school Monday – Friday 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM. In addition to the in-person instruction, teachers provide virtual learning assignments via Google Classroom.
My advice regarding parenting and remote learning is to wu-sah! Take a deep breath in and breathe out. Virtual learning with young children is a stressor.
Isn't it interesting how children can play computer games for hours on a computer screen, but when you ask them to do something educational, it's a different game? All of a sudden, their attention span is shortened from five hours to five minutes.
We have found that the most effective way to address cooperation with remote learning is bribery and punishment! Sorry for the perfect parents out there who do not support this approach to getting children to behave.
You may think that bribery and punishment are awful measures to instill discipline in your children. I believe they are an effective means to teach delayed gratification. We also make sure to reward their positive behaviors.
My children know that if they want to play Roblox in the evening, they must complete all of their homework, finish their independent studies, and list five things or people that they are grateful for in life. Without meeting these requirements, they cannot touch the laptop or tablet. Sure, they fuss and cry, but these rules work!
Try creating similar rules for your household. If they don’t do_____ then they can’t play_______. Be firm and loving. Children need to hear the words, no and yes, to understand the yin and yang of life.
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