Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the landscape of education has been in a constant state of change. How can K-12 teachers navigate through these unsettling waters in order to provide students with a safe and effective learning experience in the classroom? Below are some strategies that teachers are effectively using in the classroom.
Progress Over Perfection
Mr. Logan Hicks (Corbin Elementary-Corbin Independent School District) stresses the importance of developing social-emotional learning in the classroom. Seeing the need for the development of social-emotional learning, Mr. Hicks asks teachers not to hesitate to sometimes let students talk and interact with one another rather than focusing on content. This will help to develop much needed social skills. He advises teachers not to be alarmed when you see students performing below grade level since this is a trend that schools are seeing across the nation. With his emphasis on students’ growth, his classroom motto is “Progress over Perfection.”
Create Engaging Lessons
Mr. Aaron Asher (Hacker Elementary-Clay County School System) focuses on the importance of creating fun, engaging lessons for the students. He likes to ignite his math students’ inner passions to learn by using hands-on manipulatives, team building exercises, instructional technology, and growth mindset skills. He stated, “there was a loss of valuable instructional time during the early days of the pandemic, but by fertilizing students’ love for learning, we will win them back.”
Provide Community Building Activities
It is important to use community building activities in the classroom in order to set goals, promote a feeling of being safe, and create a collaborative learning environment. Some ideas for building community in the classroom are:
- Conduct morning meetings in which the teacher provides an overview of the day, makes announcements, and gives students an opportunity to share information.
- Allow students to give oral or written “shout outs” to their classmates.
- Set goals for the classroom and provide a class-wide reward when these goals are met.
- Develop a democratic classroom in which students have a voice in making rules and decisions for the class.
- Create a classroom newsletter for parents/caregivers and students. Each student would be assigned a particular job (e.g. photographer, editor, reporter).
- Design a class-wide service-oriented project, such as: collecting canned food for a local food bank, creating cards for a nursing facility or Veteran’s hospital, or a community action project. For service-oriented projects on a global scale, Kid World Citizen https://kidworldcitizen.org/service-learning-projects-for-classes/ provides a list of projects that provide students with unique learning opportunities in diverse areas.
Privately Check on Your Students
Miss Cameron Holt (Keavy Elementary School-Laurel County School System) developed a weekly Google check-in form that her students complete which lets her know how they are doing and what is going on in their lives. Students are able to inform Miss Holt, privately, of any issues that may require future attention. Most of the time, students keep it fun and light-hearted, but they know that their teacher cares about them and they feel comfortable in asking for help or advice. Miss Holt responds to their notes via personal messages or, if needed, a private meeting.
By: Connie Hodge, Ed.D., associate professor, EKU Department of Teaching, Learning, & Educational Leadership
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