The 7 Social-Emotional Needs We Discovered in Week One of Teaching Online

Editors Features March 20 / March 20, 2020

 – Jake, Peter, Tom, and Dan –

Teaching was taxing before COVID-19, and making a rapid transition to online learning is driving the stress level through the roof. More than ever before, teachers need to cap their weeks with some downtime, reflection, and camaraderie so we can refill our tanks for next week. This week we’re sharing what it was like to finish week one of our own unique RTOL adventures with a recap of the social-emotional needs we discovered.  Listen to the episode or read the transcript below:

Transcript

Hello and welcome to the RTOL Bar and Grill, a weekly hangout with teachers making a rapid transition to online learning.

Tom:

Hey, what’s up? Why don’t you grab a beer or wine or a coffee and sit down? Thanks for popping in for the happy hour at the RTOL Bar and Grill with me and the crew. More than ever before, teachers need to cap their weeks with some downtime, reflection, and camaraderie because we can fill our tanks the next week. This week we’re sharing what it was like to finish week one of our own unique RTOL adventures. Guys, how was your week?

Dan:

It has been a roller coaster of a week. I feel like I’m working harder than I have ever worked, and it hasn’t stopped. But everything is in constant flux of trying to figure this out, that out. How can I manage my time better and still see my family? Especially since I’m working from home. It’s just been crazy trying to balance everything.

Tom:

So, yeah, Dan, so I’m feeling the same way. My girls, my wife are always around, but everybody’s got their head in a laptop, and it feels like I’m not spending time with my family even though I’m stuck in the same room with them all day.

Dan:

I agree. And because my wife is working on doing schoolwork with our kindergartener, and my youngest keeps running in and out of the room. My oldest is stuck on a computer and working through her stuff, and she’s been awesome, diligent working on her stuff. But yeah, I mean, we’re around each other all day, but getting to actually spend time together, I mean, I’m still working and the kids are still in school. And so, it’s just a different dynamic than I think what I anticipated going into the remote learning situation.

Peter:

I think part of it is being synchronous or asynchronous, where I’m asynchronous, so it’s pretty much a free for all. The kids are logging in when they feel like it, they’re doing the work on whatever their schedule is, and they have questions on their schedule and they’re expecting answers or help or interaction on their schedule. And with the four classes, I have 116 kids or something like that, and I’m outnumbered. I can’t put it any other way. I think I’m outnumbered more than I am when I’m sitting in a classroom and I have 32 of them looking at me. I just feel I’m much more outnumbered now.

Tom:

If they’re stuck, you feel like you kind of have to jump right in and get them unstuck. Right? So they can keep moving forward.

Peter:

Absolutely. You don’t want them to struggle. Although, what I learned a little bit is if you let them struggle a little bit, they’ll be resourceful enough and maybe get themselves unstuck. Not all the time. But on a couple of times, they’ll reach out, and if I’m in the middle of something and I get to them, five minutes later I’ll get another remind text, “Oh, I figured it out. Nevermind. Thanks anyway.” Something like that.

Tom:

Yeah. Yeah.

Jake:

So Dan, okay, you and me, we’re both asynchronous in our classrooms, usually, so I’m curious, is that how it is for you now? Or I mean, for me, my kids already are used to the, “Mr. H may not tell me the answer right the second,” and they have to kind of figure it out themselves. Are your kids adapting to that pretty well because that’s kind of how it’s been?

Dan:

Well, what I have is I have an asynchronous while being synchronous classroom. And what I mean by that is that the kids are still going through content asynchronously, so they’re not all in the same place, but we meet synchronously so that… I found that they needed that schedule and routine. So I am still meeting with kids. Like I have my eighth-grade class at 9:00 o’clock, we run from 9:00 to 9:40. And what it allows me to do is be present with all of them for that 40 minutes so that I can get them certain documents that they may be missing. I can email those out, handle any questions that come up, and I can still connect with the entire class at the same time. And that’s been something that I think has really been missing for a lot of them because they feel so isolated anyways. It’s the only time-

Tom:

Yeah. Socially. Yeah.

Dan:

Yeah. And it’s the only time we can get together and actually talk and kind of hang out a little bit. But I’ve just noticed that the kids have been longing for that community feel, and they’re isolated as it is. And to be able to bring them together has been extremely beneficial. So, yeah, we’re asynchronous in that how we’re going through content, but I felt it was important to still be synchronous in our meeting time.

Tom:

Part of me wishes I went synchronous. I don’t think it would’ve been good for the students, but selfishly, to have much of what I do confined to just know discrete time of the day would have been easier on me. I’m in Peter’s boat where my new line is I’m punching out 6:00 PM every night, I close the computer, and I’m done for the day unless there’s an emergency that a student comes to me with. But the asynchronous is just-

Peter:

Yeah. It’s daunting.

Tom:

… it’s all-consuming.

Dan:

I find that it’s hard-working from home just because there isn’t an end to my work day.

Tom:

Right.

Dan:

I mean, it’s going from my office area to my living room, and it’s like the day just extends forever.

Tom:

Right. I was sitting on my bed at 10:15 last night with my phone in my hand. My older daughter was trying to talk to me, and she said, “What are you doing?” And I said, “I’m emailing a student. I got to get to this student.” She said, “It’s 10:15, dad.” And I realized like, she’s right, it’s 10:15, and I’m still “at work.”

Peter:

I had the same thing. I was responding to a student at 9:45 the other night, and I said, “This is crazy.” But again, you’ve got that toss-up between, they’ve got a question, they need some assistance, some reassurance, some whatever, and they’re isolated. What I did this week, which really worked out well, I set up extra help every day for geometry, both classes, and then an hour later, I had actual help for everybody in my two calculus classes. And that was their chance to come in, address concerns. Sometimes they just wanted to chat. That’s all they wanted to do, just interact, and that was fine.

Tom:

Yeah. My wife is doing that optional study groups or study sessions where she’s there, it’s not required, but pop in if you want to interact with each other or if you want to ask her questions. It’s working really well for her.

Peter:

It’s exactly what I’m doing, and it cut down on a lot of the remind texts, a lot of the other emails, a lot of the other things like that, and I found that their need to interact with me after dinner decreased to almost not exist in the last two nights.

Tom:

All right guys, so one week in the books and another week on the horizon. What are your eyes looking towards for next week?

Peter:

Well, I’m going to continue the optional extra helps. That seemed to have made a big difference. My students felt very comfortable with that. I gave them the option of having video on or video off, whatever they were comfortable. I’m going to do some more lighter activities. I borrowed Dan’s scavenger hunt idea, and I gave it to them this morning on Flipgrid, and it’s going to be due Monday. And also, I said, “It’ll give you a chance if you’re behind on any work for this week, now you have a chance to catch up with it.” So, I wanted to keep it light. I want to keep the stress level down. They’re all stressed, so I’m going to continue that next week.

Jake:

I’m excited because we finally got Zoom approved for our district, so now I can actually do sessions with my kiddos. So, I’m planning on every day maybe having two different sessions. You can join in either one. Of course, we can’t do anything mandatory this time when it comes to that, but just to have the time to get together. And I was telling Tom, I’m going to have it where if they join they get 100 bonus points, and I have no idea what these are actually for. I said maybe it will be, we add up their points, and they can request me to like write a rap battle between students or history things, whatever. But I’m just trying to get kids engaged.

Dan:

That’s going to be my challenge, as well, and I’m looking to see how can I redo our group space because since our face-to-face time is now very different… I mean, we’re still meeting, but I’ve got to find ways to engage the kids. And an idea that I had was doing battleship because the kids can create their own battleship board, I can have my board, and we can play back and forth. And I mean, we can use terms from the unit, and that’s how they fill in their board and determine their different locations, but I just want something so that the kids have fun and it’s not the same, sit in class, take notes sort of thing. But there’s actual activities, and we’re creating an active learning environment even if it’s done remotely.

Tom:

Nice. Nice. Well, that’s it. We’ve got one week under our belt, but we certainly have another one on the horizon. I for one can’t wait for next Friday’s Happy Hour. Well, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to go get us another round from the bar. I’ll be right back.

Announcer:

You’ve been listening to RTOL Bar and Grill. Until next week, be well. Hey Tom, I did my job. Can a brother get a beer up in here?

 






Editorial Leam
Editorial Team
This article was written by a collaboration of editors and columnists on the FLR editorial team or guest contributors.




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