As schools across the country are beginning to open for the 2020-2021 school year. Most are opening virtually to start the year as many states still battle with curving the COVID-19 virus. Unlike the spring, when schools closed, it seems the technology divide is not as wide as many schools purchased electronic devices to ensure students had technology access at home. With many students able to have technology at home, many schools have shifted their attention to how they will better engage students during virtual learning time.
I came across this graphic circulating on Twitter about dos and don’ts for educators and teachers during virtual learning.
There are some aspects of the graphic that I agree with, and then there are others I am having a hard time agreeing with. When I saw the graphic on social media, many people were liking the graphic due to it encouraging teachers and educators not to force students to turn on their video. The graphic makes some compelling points regarding why students should not have to turn on their video cameras. Privacy was mentioned because students may not feel comfortable displaying their living space to their peers. To that, I would encourage students to position themselves against a wall or allow them to create an age and school appropriate background where their living space can be hidden. The was also mention of students might feeling shy or anxious to be on camera. I believe there is no difference between students showing their faces on camera and showing their faces in a classroom when they are in person.
In our school, we require all scholars to be on camera. The purpose is while students are on camera, the teacher and the teacher support on the zoom call can monitor whether or not students are actively participating and engaged. When their cameras are on, we can see if they are nodding off or doing other things that can distract and disrupt their learning. We laid out the expectations early in the process to students and parents. We are encouraging parents to create workspaces within the home that will be conducive to the students learning.
- Encourage students to use the chat and reactions to communicate
- Turn their videos on
- Mute all students
- Cold call students to ensure they are paying attention
- Using additional assessment tools like: NearPod or Padlet
- Giving extra credit to kids for turning on their video
- Remove students for not turning on their video
- Giving participation points for students for having their video on
I understand this is unprecedented times for students, especially students of color and students in low income communities, but we must not lower the bar of excellence. We must teach our students how to operate in the digital space.