In my work as an online teacher, we often meet as colleagues to try to figure out how to engage our students when they seem to be checking out. When they begin to fall behind, it snowballs very quickly, and they often end up failing at the end of the grading period.
Trying to utilize all the PD sessions I’ve both taught and attended, sharing my own life with my students, and trying to make sure they know that I see them, that I hear them, I’ve tried some different strategies lately.
I’ve begun to use a “word of the week” in my announcement to get them thinking, and in my weekly email, I invite them to respond to a question I pose. I upped the stakes this week, with only six weeks left in their semester. I offered Extra Credit for any response to the question: How do you show grit? I had already defined the word for them.
And wow, I got some incredible responses that reminded my teacher self that we don’t always know our students’ home story:
“I would have to say, at this time in my life, I show my true grit by putting forth the effort when I really want to find a corner and cry. But I know I can’t do that because so many people depend on me. As you already know, my pawpaw is dying, and I go with my mom sometimes to help out with him because it is so hard on her. I try to keep pawpaw’s spirit up and talk to him as much as I can. But, watching him die has got to be the worst thing ever!! He went from getting around on his own to can’t even stand up and he has lost so much weight!! But I put on my best face and talk to him like I always have. He is starting to get confused and ill, but I totally understand that it’s the cancer doing this to him. All I know to do is pray for him and love him and be there for him and my mom. This may not be really what you were asking for, but I do feel like it fits me right now.”