Spring has sprung, and it’s not just daffodils that are blooming. At 100 East End, cameras have popped up in every classroom, and newly constructed spaces are opening. With better classroom tech and the promise of more students in the building, we may feel as though we’ll be returning to normal soon and that our few virtual learners will be more integrated than ever into our in-person classes. But there’s pedagogical gold to be mined if we stay attuned to our remote kids.
“I love the WebEx system. It helps me hear everyone better and it makes it easier for the in-person teachers to see raised hands....It also helps me see everyone, which makes me feel much more engaged.” —A Remote Student, Class 7
As you plan for the final trimester, consider the affordances of a split classroom. Here are some tips for taking full advantage.
1. Recognize and celebrate the remote view
Empower those Zooming in by actively valuing their remote perspectives. They can critique an in-person discussion or identify missed opportunities in problem-solving exercises. They can be the voice of the omniscient narrator in a dramatic reading or represent the missing voices of a particular text or era.
“If the materials don’t get sent home, a lot of the time I just have to watch the experiment or activity.” —A Remote Student, Class 7
2. Include alternatives in your lesson planning
Just like recipes offer substitutions or exercise instructors offer modifications, build remote options into all of your lesson plans. In addition to signaling to your remote students that you’ve purposefully planned for them, you’ll be prepared when students have to quarantine unexpectedly. Plus, you’ll be future-proofing your practice. After all, we may have students dialing in from all over the world in years to come.
3. Have all students Zoom
Remote students want to see their peers’ faces. Having all students on Zoom, audio off, confirms that we are one class. In-person students can help when we forget our virtual kids, mentioning when a classmate has a question or when something is overlooked in the chat.
“[It's hard to get] attention from the teacher when they are walking around the classroom. Sometimes they don't hear you when you call them or don't see you when you raise your hand, and you have to wait until they see you to be able to talk.” —A Remote Student, Class 7
4. Dedicate a buddy
Designate in-person students to partner virtual learners. During turn-and-talks or group work, a partner can step out into the hallway and join the virtual peer(s) in a breakout room. Says one remote student, “This is a great way to get to talk and work with your friends who you haven't seen in a while!”
5. Use remote learners as field reporters
Studying climate or biodiversity? Include data from students' remote locations. Investigating federalism or regionalism? Have remote students share their city or state’s policies or what’s making local-news headlines. Looking to make music from ambient noise? Sample Uruguay, Colorado, Pakistan, and the Upper West Side. (Class 7 students dialed in from all of those spots in December.)
Got a tip for maximizing hybrid learning? Share it in the comments below!