It’s no secret.
Educators are struggling with online teaching.
The Struggles with Online Teaching
We are struggling because we have to redefine how we connect with our students, our community and with ourselves as a wave of massive fundamental changes in education and the world continue to sweep over us.
Connection is Key
Let’s look at CONNECTION and how you, as an educator, can connect with your students, and how you are connecting with yourself, as a tidal wave of change washes over you, leaving many of us feeling disconnected.
You know that feeling when you have connected with someone. There is no sweeter moment for a teacher than the moment when you have connected with your students. It is magic. It is where great things happen.
Connection is that sweet spot where learning happens, and it has the potential to propel learning to new heights for all parties involved.
Yet, connection suffers when teachers are restricted, not trusted, and not allowed creative autonomy to teach the best way they know how when on-line. Teachers can quickly lose their sense of creativity and get bogged down following rules and outdated curriculums that deal with subjects in isolated boxes.
Light in the Tunnel
Yet, teaching on-line has shown us a more streamlined way to teach. There is light in the tunnel! It is more important now than ever to connect first, then teach. We have less quality time to teach what our students need to learn. We have to make our time with students more powerful and relevant than ever before. And that is exactly the struggle; when expectations of what we are to teach are outdated, we simply don’t have time anymore to teach material that is ‘irrelevant’.
As an educator, I am re-evaluating everything I have to teach, and the new online environment is forcing parents, leadership, owners, and governments to rethink how and what teachers will teach. Yet the old system of isolated subjects, bound by timelines, still prevails.
As we cope with the new dynamics of teaching online, the world is changing around us faster than ever. Boundaries are challenged, time isn’t the same and connecting with our students on a deeply personal level has never been more critical.
Letting go of educational structures that haven’t changed with the times will open the door for educators to embrace new changes that will help propel students and ourselves forward in exciting new territory. We can’t let ‘structures’ get in the way of ‘connection’.
Here is a great definition of connection by Brene Brown,
“…connection (is) the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
That is the challenge, to step up and stay focused on what is REALLY important. Prioritizing has NEVER been more important for an educator. Just one example of this is the reality that the attention span of a learner on the screen is much less than the attention span of a learner in the physical classroom.
If I have a ‘moment’ as a teacher on-line, when I have to change the plan in a second, I will choose to CONNECT rather than TEACH. Students learn more when they are connected with their teacher, but it is near impossible to get them to learn without that connection.
In this new dynamic environment of online teaching, teachers have to prioritize their learner’s needs (what and how they learn), and schools need to prioritize their teachers. If we can’t prioritize what is most important and put our energy there, we risk losing our audience, and our efforts will only leave us spinning in self-doubt.
We have to get REALLY good at connecting.
We need to DO less and FEEL more.
Let us move forward without judgement and let connection guide our teaching and learning.
Let’s allow the ever recognizable feeling of ‘lack of connection’ be the signpost that says;
Slow down! Step back! Breathe, reconnect and re-evaluate.
Let time slow down, as it is screaming for us to do; so that we can feel our way through these challenging times.
Listen to teachers on the front-line who know. Here is a great article that documents replies from teachers, when asked, ” If you could change one thing in education what would it be?” COVID-19 has made these responses even more relevant today.
Please share below if you are an educator and have struggled with teaching online. If you have found anything that helps with your online teaching please share it here, and let’s start connecting.