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7 Tips to Keeping Students Engaged while Learning Virtually – for parents and teachers

By Mr. “I’m Possible” – Keith L. Brown

It’s no secret many students would rather remain curled up under their covers, briefly appearing to attend school virtually if they had their choice. This is why parents and teachers must collaborate to create an environment that is both conducive to learning, engaging and relevant all at the same time. The following 7 tips will make the virtual learning experience more enriching for our nation’s promising pupils:

1- Create a space in the home conducive to learning and make the chosen space the office space for the student(s). In classrooms students are assigned desks and can take a form of ownership with those desks. In the home, students can be given designated areas during the school day that represent their office areas. As early as Elementary School- students can begin to get a feel of the “real world,” they often hear about from parents and teachers. When given their office areas, they should be allowed to add some creativity to the area by adding some of their belongings, such as pictures, posters, etc. Of course, these items can be removed daily at the end of the school/workday. I advise parents to choose areas other than the bedroom, if possible, as the bedroom is typically where students spend most of their time and is often viewed as a social area. Living and Dining rooms, even the kitchen are ideal if applicable. When students feel a sense of ownership, they tend to be more engaged.

2- Have breakthroughs with breakouts: Allow students to be group leaders in breakout sessions. Assign students to have specific roles that will increase their level of accountability, participation and overall ownership of the learning environment- which can foster impactful breakthroughs during lessons.

3- Teachers can begin each day with, “Social Emotional Learning,” meaning before diving into academics- teachers can take the pulse of the class by using the first 10 minutes or so to focus on the mental and emotional wellness of students. In doing so, students will feel like they matter and there will be a strong sense of community that can reduce possible feelings of isolation. With students already socially distanced from their peers- reducing emotional distancing is key to increasing a sense of belonging as well as engagement overall.

4- Energy! Energy! Energy! Yes, teachers should heighten the level of energy when teaching lessons on virtual platforms. While students may zone out in normal on-site classroom settings- the chances they will do so virtually are greatly increased if they are learning in upbeat highly engaging environments. This is why I strongly encourage our nation’s excellent educators to be even more animated while teaching lessons virtually.

5- Provide more positive reinforcement. Parents and Teachers can collaboratively provide more positive reinforcement. When students are working diligently, provide positive feedback. Teachers can do this during lessons and parents can do this when students are on periodic breaks and doing their lunchtime and at the end of the day. Everyone likes to be validated for their efforts, and in this “new normal,” doing so will help students desire to excel at a higher level.

6- The Music Intelligence is key in increasing engagement while learning virtually. Incorporating music into lessons will keep students alert and moderate physical movement will keep the blood flowing, which will lessen the possibility of students napping on the virtual platform. Teachers can randomly have students do popular line dances like the “Cupid Shuffle,” or “Cha Cha Slide,” both of which can be educational, as both give commands which test how well individuals can follow directions. Two minutes of music can set the tone for a very productive class, be used as an icebreaker, or even team building exercise to increase community and learning overall.

7- Make sure lessons relate to real life situations. For example, if students are in a Science class- have them do experiments that can be easily done in the home. In addition, if they are in English/Language Arts, have them write poetry using items in their home that are a certain color or have them go on a scavenger hunt and bring back 10 items that represent parts of speech, etc. Once again- when the lessons are relevant, students will be engaged.

Mr. “I’m Possible”, Keith L. Brown has been named a world-class speaker and one of the top speakers and consultants in education by Insight Publishing and International Speakers Network. A Presidential Lifetime Achievement award winner, Brown empowers hundreds of thousands of people annually, many of whom are in college school systems supplemental education agencies and more.

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