It is true that the world seems like a strange place during this pandemic. The routines of everyone have altered, from seniors to even toddlers. Students have also found themselves amidst a challenging time. What once had the physical shape of classrooms and campuses has now transformed into a computer screen. Students, as well as teachers, need to recognize that this is something the world is going through collectively and everyone should take it one step at a time.
Many colleges and universities have shifted their classes online as a result of the threat imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. The digitalization of the education sector has been a plan of the future before the outbreak, and it has suddenly become a reality. This change of environment and circumstances has found, both, teachers as well as students unprepared. No one expected that the world would ‘transform’ itself overnight.
Below are some tips on how to help keep your students motivated during the coronavirus pandemic, amidst the thrill of online learning:
1. Be Flexible With Online Techniques
Online learning gives you the opportunity to be flexible while offering numerous practical techniques you can use to enhance learning. Explore the distance learning platform you are using and find the different ways you can make it easier for your students to interact, gain access to PDFs, learning materials, or presentations.
Give your students the flexibility to learn at their own speed, consider setting deadlines according to their learning pace. Through online learning platforms, you also have the possibility to monitor your students’ progress, so find out if anyone needs a bit of extra help and let them know you are there for them.
2. Organize Group Projects
During times like this, many students might find it beneficial to work in groups. They will be able to enhance their collaborative skills, while also being in touch with their peers. Working with other people can cause them to feel less stress or anxiety and they can help one another to overcome any challenge they might have. Students can use video calls or message boards in order to complete their assignments and communicate with one another while at it.
3. Ask for Feedback
Ask your students to give you feedback on how online classes are going so far. Give them the chance to provide suggestions, requests, or ask any questions. Consider their requests and try to understand how they are feeling. Some might be going through easier times, while others might be having a more challenging time to adjust to learning from a distance. Not everyone will be on the same page. So by asking them for feedback or suggestions, you could actually get the help you think you need in order to make your class a comfortable place for your students.
4. Communicate With Your Students
You can choose to communicate with your students through different means of communication, or maybe even use the chat option on the distance learning platform you are using. Notify them about the hours you will be available to answer their questions or provide any assistance. Although there should be some boundaries between students and their instructors, it would be a big help for students if they knew they could get in touch with instructors (even through email) in case of potential challenges.
5. Do Not Avoid Coronavirus Discussions
Talking about the current pandemic situation might actually make your students feel better and it might even ease stress levels. Maybe some of them are misinformed or have wrong ideas in their heads. Give them reliable sources of information and inform them that there are fake news and rumours circulating around. You might even incorporate creative activities regarding the pandemic. Ask your students to list the things they can do to help the world overcome the virus and support those in need. You do not have to make a whole class about the virus, simply integrate the topic in the curriculum from time to time to make sure your students are safe from misinformation.
6. Try to Keep a Positive Attitude
To reflect positivity, you should also have a positive attitude for yourself. Understand that this is a challenging time, not only for students but for teachers as well. Everyone is trying to adapt to a new reality. So, maybe during the pandemic, you should focus on managing your expectations. Instead of thinking you cannot do something, think “I will try my best to get it done”. Students will notice your positive outlook and you might even become their source of motivation. Try using optimistic language like “when you come back to the classroom”, or “when we see one another in fall”. This will make them look forward to returning to campus and being among peers.
7. Email Your Students
Emailing your students is both helpful and appreciated. During a time when many things have gone virtual, it might be difficult for students and teachers to get in-person communication one would get while in classrooms. However, make sure you let your students know that you are there for them. This could be done by sending emails to your students every once in a while to let them know you are thinking about them.
8. Create a Community Board
Not being able to go to campus does not simply mean not being able to go to class. The campus is the place where students can meet up, talk, and discuss. Ever since the coronavirus outbreak, many students have not had the chance to socialize with their peers to the extent they used to. Creating a community board would give all students the opportunity to share what is happening in their lives, or simply discuss different topics or share jokes. Talking to friends and laughing will more often than not make people feel better.
9. Humanize Yourself in Front of Them
Often, teachers are seen as distant authoritative figures, so try to be more relaxed and joyous during these challenging times. Tell your students that the current situation has also affected you and you were also required to make certain changes to your schedule just like them. Start a casual conversation between discussions or presentations to let them know that you are also going through the same things. You might consider talking about the things you are doing around the house or how you finally have the time to do some of the things you have been meaning to for a long time. Being too strict is only going to make them more tense. Try to make classes stress-free places.
10. Put Yourself in Their Shoes
At the end of the day, if all else fails, try to put yourself in your students’ shoes. If you were a student during a global pandemic, which are the things that would motivate you and make you feel better. Empathy is always a good idea and now is the perfect time to make use of it.