In the online school “room,” motivating students to get started is always a challenge. It isn’t so different from a brick and mortar classroom except that I can’t physically pull up a chair next to my online students to see if I can help them get unstuck. I have to find virtual ways to connect.
I use lots of goofy photos from Snap Chat, and I even make them little videos trying to get a response. When they do get going, I stay in contact by email and in their course and continue to send them silly things that I hope will inspire. I think the most difficult part of teaching in an online environment is building community because it is so easy to stay disconnected in our oh-so-connected world.
These students have much the same lives as the students I had in a live classroom. They come from strong families and broken families, families struggling to put food on the table and families with abundance, families with close bonds and families that have drifted apart, families with parents who support and encourage and families who’ve left the student to figure it out all on their own.
So I look for ways to engage these incredible human beings. I genuinely want to know who they are and where they came from and what their favorite supper is or their dog’s name and how they have to walk to their grandma’s house to do school because she watches over them during the day. I made some snickerdoodle cookies over the weekend, because one of my students who is aspiring to be a chef, sent me the recipe and told me they were the best soft and chewy snickerdoodles ever! He wrote, “If you have any trouble, Mrs. G, just leave me a note in discussion and I’ll help you.” I didn’t have any trouble and they were delicious.