Hedreich Nichols

From a Distance

If you are a hedreich.com regular AND a music fan, you may have noticed that the blog article titles are song titles. Music is my thing. I can regularly be seen embarrassing my bio and school kids by breaking into song at unexpected times. Music weaves it’s way into articles, posts, lessons, on guest vlogs and even in PDs. My upcoming webinar is no different. From A Distance was a part of my original webinar title but I thought it was a bit unclear. It remains, however, the theme. From a distance ≠ at a distance. During this time of Covid19 social distancing, we have to lean in.

Leaning in means realizing that not only is from a distance ≠ at a distance, but similarly, distance learning is not the same as distance teaching:

  1. The person who is talking is the person who is learning.
  2. If you are lecturing for your 80 percent of your online sessions you are not building the communication skills of your students, you’re building your own.
  3. If teacher-student connection is the primary socialization in your class, your students are missing critical skill-building opportunities.

The good news is, you can correct that easily. Here are a couple of ideas that you can easily integrate. Assign students to:

  • “host” the class and be responsible for letting students in and greeting them in the chat while you host 5 minutes of Zoom unmuted chaos.
  • use the whiteboard or screen sharing functions to teach a part of the lesson.
  • pull up “guess the gibberish” on Instagram and play with the class (older students, of course).
  • host a Kahoot for the class.
  • have group discussions in breakout rooms.
  • have student led discussions after group work.
  • Have show and tell.
  • invite mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, animals, stuffed animals etc to be a part of the final 5 minutes of class. Take a group pic and send it to parents thanking them for all their help.

The point is that drilling information into your kids because you have fewer instructional minutes is not probably going to make them any smarter. The research tells us that making sure they feel connected will, however. So lean in. teaching them from a distance does not mean that you all remain separated by distance. Give them opportunities to interact. Let them do most of the talking. Set up your instructional nuggets as questions as much as possible so they are thinking and making connections– with the content, with you, with each other.

If you want to learn more about it, join me on Wednesday at 11AM (Texas time) for 7 Strategies for Better Online Student Engagement where we’ll talk about learning, engagement and connecting from a distance.