Today’s blog about Tallo’s response to schools in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak is a guest post from Emily Todd, a member of Tallo’s Education team and a former teacher.
Educators across the world are feeling overwhelmed by their schools moving to e-learning or closing due to the coronavirus. Teachers, school counselors, and support staff are lifelines for their students. Not only are educators tasked with teaching a diverse population a year’s worth of content, but students also rely on their teachers for support in all realms of their lives.
Like you, what kept me in my classroom after-hours and up at night was not worrying about my students’ knowledge of physical science but their well-being. I spent countless hours and dollars, ensuring my students knew my classroom was a safe space for them. I know that this is your concern too. “Are they hungry?” “Are they safe?” “Do they feel loved?” These questions become all too real when worrying that your students do not have access to their safe space — school — during mass school closures.
Here are five tips for connecting with and supporting your students’ wellbeing amid the COVID-19 outbreak:
Continue to send regular updates. Use your schools’ messenger system, email, or even mail letters to your students to let them know you are thinking about them, and you miss them. Keep these messages personal and uplifting, not just about academics. Let your students know that you are thinking about them, and you’re still there to support them.
Understand your students’ environment. Send home a survey or call home to discuss internet and device access, as well as the type of learning environment your students’ have at home. Use these discussions to build community and promote local resources for families in need.
Show your students a familiar face. Record a video to send to your students, or take advantage of free virtual meeting spaces, to let your students hear from you and connect with you. Companies like Zoom, are offering free video conferencing accounts to schools.
Be flexible and understanding. This might be your students’ first time in an e-learning environment. It may take time for some of your students to adjust to learning outside of your traditional classroom. Creating short modules or mini-lessons can help students work in smaller chunks.
Try something new. Use this time to be creative with your instruction. Host a virtual science fair, or class read-aloud, or create a discussion board to ensure your students are still interacting with one another. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Tallo is offering free school accounts to schools and educators affected by the crisis. To learn more, check out our free resources for schools to help you stay connected during the pandemic and beyond.
It’s important to remember through all of this that you’re not alone — even though it might feel that way for both you and your students. That’s why I recommend reaching out and utilizing the technology available to all of us as teachers to connect in new ways and share a positive message with students who might be struggling with what all of this means for them.