Dennesha Frazer Poughkeepsie United States of Ame
Motivating learners throughout this crisis
Prepared by: Dennesha Frazer (Teachfray)
A few weeks ago, we were doing business as usual in our classrooms. We incorporated technology here and there, as the lessons required but never have we been totally reliant on that medium. When this pandemic hit our country in March of 2020, we were thrust outside our normal. Since then, almost overnight, we have had to move from the traditional classroom to a virtual one. Despite all the challenges, educators must seek to keep learners motivated to achieve. Below are 10 tips on how to do so.
1. Be emotionally intelligent. This is needed in a crisis more than any other time. As much as your life has been affected, so has the lives of your students. One of my finest students has been unable to submit all her assignments because she has had to be baby sitting. Another sent me a picture to represent the challenges of her crammed household.
Amidst these prevailing circumstances, the educator must keep in touch with the realities of the learners. Let the learner know you are aware that they are having challenges. This will keep them interested.
2. Go the extra mile. Put measures in place to mitigate some of these challenges which the learners are experiencing. I have had to be very lenient with assignment deadlines and have had to take screenshots when the actual document would have been more ideal. Also, I have had to assist students in uploading assignments so, that I could have a record of same on the selected platform for grading.
3. Attend to the individual learner. In the virtual classroom, you must reach out to greet individual students the way you would in the traditional classroom. Pause to have conversations about random things that interest them. Find out how they are doing and how they have been coping. Being caring is an element of motivation.
4. Plan with the whole constituent in mind. I have observed that, as educators have gotten excited about the various platforms and applications available to aid in online learning, they might have inadvertently made choices that have been detrimental to some learners.
Only approximately 20% of my learners have access to wifi. Most of them use a data plan which they purchase daily or weekly. Each time I prepare for a learning incident, I bear this in mind. Therefore, I download videos instead of posting links, I use a voice note instead of a live meeting and I choose a platform with an application so that assignment uploading will be low on data consumption. You cannot afford to frustrate your learners during this challenging time.
5. Teach in bite sizes. Online learning can be very overwhelming, especially for students who depend on the element of human presence to grasp concepts quickly. Therefore, to keep learners motivated as they attain new knowledge, the educator must be strategic in the volume of new contents being shared.
Therefore, in the past week, as I taught my 10th graders how to work with PowerPoint, I first had them watch a video and answer guided questions. After this, I offered them feedback and gave them an opportunity to resubmit corrections. Then and only then did I have them create a single slide with a background. When I was satisfied that they understood how to manipulate the software, I gave them a task to prepare a 5 slide presentation about their family. The submission rate was unbelievable and the quality was excellent.
6. Provide adequate learning support. To keep learners motivated, the educator must be available to offer guidance to struggling students. You must be aware that the learners who seem brightest in the traditional setting may struggle a lot in the virtual setup. Therefore, provide enough examples, supporting materials and be available to assist.
7. Use a lot of formative assessment activities. It is better to do small assessment task as the lesson progresses than to wait for the end of a topic or unit to do testing. This is as true online as it is in the traditional setup. This way, you can also motivate learners as they see themselves attaining mastery bit by bit.
8. Offer detailed feedback promptly. The learners will only remain motivated if they can track their progress. They also want an opportunity to improve their output and since the goal is mastery, the educators should be accommodating in this area.
For my students, I try to provide feedback within one or two days after they post their responses to assessment tasks.
9. Develop a rewards system. There are methods online such as a score board which could be used to rank learners and offer healthy peer competition. It is advisable that the ranking focuses on capturing at least the top 30% to heighten healthy competition.
Using an application such as ScoreKeeper, might be a great idea.
Things must also be in place to celebrate learners who may never make it to the top of the class.
10. Do not forsake traditional motivational techniques. The methods of using stamps and stickers never grow old. Recently, good old stickers were successfully used by my principal to commend teachers for maintaining excellent attendance records. It works even better for children and teens.
For the digital setup, I have created some digital stickers which can be used in the whatsapp classroom.
Please remember that Student Motivation can never grow old. It has been one of the finest methods used to keep many hundreds of learners on task when they couldn't think of another reason to do so. Keep at it.
Have fun motivating your learners throughout this crisis!