Between Zoom sessions with students, daily collaborative meetings, and students who are physically in the classroom many teachers are facing enormous challenges this school year.
This happens each day of the week: Students are inundated with emails and other digital communication throughout each school day that will need to be organized, normally this is a task that can be done at school with gentle reminders. For those that are learning remotely this task seems more and more difficult. How do you keep track of all of these items coming at you? Add this to the already busy life of a student who might not have a stable Internet connection, a single parent family household, being moved around throughout the week so that these students are supervised and well, let’s face it this is nearly impossible. Who thought the year 2020 was going to be easy anyway?
Being a middle school teacher in a highly rigorous academic school district, my focus is on helping my students understand and build executive functioning skills, critical for today’s youth. This year I have tried to construct online frameworks that can support students through the COVID era of academic complexities while trying to keep myself and my students organized. This is no easy feat people, I struggle with this each day..
Here are some things I have learned and used in my new role as a remote teacher, mentor, mental emotional health evaluator, leader, and as a parent.
BUILD AND ESTABLISH ROUTINES
In our district we use Schoology for our LMS and this is where all of my assignments and content can be found.
Each class has folders in it that are labeled for each unit we discuss. I publish the unit (folder) we are working on one at a time not to confuse the students. There everything is sequential and the students know this. They can go there daily and see what we will be doing next. If I find that there is too much information in that folder I will hide the assignment or notes until it is time to go over that material.
By labeling content consistently, keeping assignments grouped by topic, and using digital due dates, students can quickly navigate to their assignments and stay focused on content.
TRY AND GIVE AS MUCH ADVANCE NOTICE
This one is hard for students because they have so much on their plates right now. Students need to make sure they have the tools to plan everything out and well for the elementary students this task is even more daunting. Since the assignments are in Schoology and are published for students to see them, students can preview the assignments when they wish to. I encourage students to have paper and pen/pencil by their workspace to write down any and all assignments they have that day. For those that might be tech savvy I have them use Google Calendar and mention to the students that many of their parents already use this themselves to stay organized for their daily lives.
IT’S CRITICAL TO KEEP FAMILIES INFORMED
Parents are the teacher’s lifeline because if we don’t keep parents involved chances are the students might fall further and further behind. It is helpful for parents/guardians to have an understanding of what they should see their kids working on in order to keep everyone on track and responsible. So how can we accomplish this, weekly emails to parents/guardians giving them a brief update of what content was covered, assignments given, and what to look out for the following week. This does not have to be long as parents don’t have time to read through lengthy emails from all of their child’s teachers. Being brief is what we are looking for, although educators can be very long winded, well at least a few of us.
These tips are just a start, we could go on and on but remember in addition to focusing on academics we also need to understand a students mental emotional health. Just by starting with one of these tips you can help your students start to become a little more organized and feel better about themselves.