This new social landscape the pandemic ushered in really changed our interactions. In-person events have transferred onto a two dimensional screen. Many people aren’t enjoying the transition and I was hesitant at first, but now I’m seeing some interesting advantages in showing up online.
We can become aware of the benefits and appreciate how these advantages affect our online connections with our students.
Developing Closer Relationships
When we, as educators, meet up with each other and our students online via video chat, we are (by default) inviting each other into our homes.
In doing so, we reveal more of who we are and also get a glimpse into our students’ surroundings. We can learn a lot from observing their favorite things and their parents’ and their decor choices.
In the Social Eyes Together® SEL curriculum and in live trainings, we actually incorporate the home environment into some of the games and exercises we lead online to learn more, share more, and develop closer relationships.
This makes the activities so much more interactive even though we’re not physically together.
We also find that the grid format on video conferences gives everyone equal “space.” Our students’ faces are all there for us to look at and gain valuable information from. We can easily see the expressions and where their attention is focused.
And our faces are right there for them, too. Maybe even more so than in the classroom.
We are all visible to each other. That creates a shared experience in the moment that can be mined for all the goods it can offer.
We can teach our students using some of the SocialEyes Together activities to take advantage of the facial clues of the others in the group to have a richer, deeper experience when we are together.
Increased Comfort Leads to More Presence
Some students are more comfortable behind a screen on their own turf as opposed to on someone else’s turf (school.) Many of our student’s anxiety spikes at school where they have to deal with many variations of social scenarios.
The troublesome arenas pop up every time they’re on the go.
They need to navigate transitions in the hall, where to sit at lunch, who to hang out with during recess, getting changed in the locker room, where to go before starts or after school ends while waiting for the bus, the actual bus ride to and from school, and the many unexpected changes to the schedule.
Whew! That’s a lot of pressure for some of our students.
Sure, it would be great for them to be learning how to manage those challenging environments more successfully, and eventually we will be working on those things once again.
In the meantime, in this new world of online learning, they get a break from the social pressures being in school serves up at every turn.
Our students’ anxiety spikes when they know they have to deal with the social areas of their lives they feel unsuccessful in and can’t control. Online learning gives them a break from these triggering situations.
The result is in their faces which are more relaxed.
The result is in their participation which is less guarded.
The result is in their willingness to take more risks in our games and exercise online.
While there are definite drawbacks to teaching online, I love finding the advantages and mining them for gold. Online learning isn’t going away any time soon and we can choose to celebrate the positive aspects of being with our students when we aren’t physically together.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about how online learning is working for you and your students.