The new approach in teaching has led to over-night changes, for both students and teachers, all of us having to deal with a new reality, finding ourselves beyond a screen, everyone in his or her own place, coming together by accessing a platform, if the Internet allows it. It seems an easy task, but in fact, all of us fell overwhelmed, struggling to do the best to meet the system’s expectations.
Teachers have always been open to challenges. In fact, this job is a challenge, as long as we don’t work with things, but we model souls, personalities and ways of thinking. That’s why, in these hard times, it’s more than necessary to understand our students and be next to them.
They need to feel that they are capable, valued and important.
In order to cultivate their sense of belonging, we should create a pleasant atmosphere for the purpose of the lesson. It sounds very interesting to me the idea of upside down school/class, that means to allow students to lead a stage of the lesson (for example, the stage of checking homework or revision of the previous knowledge) and teacher ”turning into’’ a student – to take notes, to answer, to do what the ,,teacher’’ says. It’s shouldn’t be regarded as waste of time, it can be very productive to trust our students, to raise their self-esteem and self-confidence, to set activities which show them very clearly that THEY CAN. Not brave enough our students for such an activity?
The online education comes up with a lot of applications which help teachers to open new gates for their students’ development. One suggestion should be voki.com, where students would be fascinated to create a virtual avatar, a digital character, customized as they like, which can be animated or static and able to address a previous recording or written text, helping them to take the role of being a teacher easier. They not only have fun, but while pretending being the teacher, they will do their best to impress the audience and will be thankful to their teachers for such an opportunity which is very difficult to lead while traditional face-to- face teaching.
Moreover, let’s remember that students come from different backgrounds. We must show interest in them. Our teaching should be student-centered. Instead of telling them what to read, let’s encourage them choose books and make recommendations or the writing tasks be focused on their experiences and opinions. Let students know how you did in similar conditions, give real personal examples, be honest with them share your experiences so that they identify with you and overcome their fears and emotions.
Last but not least, ”prioritize high-quality teacher-student relationships, by scheduling office hours or one-on-one meeting times. Make sure to get to know your students and to allow them space to discuss their needs and individual questions” (turnitin.com/blog/7-ways-to-give-your-students-a-sense-of-belonging).
We probably know all of these very well, but we must know even better now with this pandemic, which, in terms of education, is actually a mix of fear, challenge, change or hope. The importance of being listened, understood, accepted and praised value more than catching up with the school curricula; it’s not a tragedy allowing students feel at ease and having time to teach, for example, just one rule of Present Simple instead of three, planned for that time. Students and their feelings are of a vital importance, aren’t they?