eLearning can suck the marrow from a love of teaching and being around young people all day. This week has been a long week, but with the close of our academic year remaining online, it has been important to regroup and try to reach out to my students who have not engaged in any form of PE eLearning since we started in February. I want to be clear that I am not in any way judging my students or blaming them, I am frustrated because I feel I cannot reach them, my emails go unanswered, my content goes unread, parents are not responding, and I feel sad that I have lost some of the more vulnerable students along the way.
This tweet really spoke to me as I saw some of the things in myself that I am working around and how they are manifesting in my life. It made me more aware that my students – both those who are showing up to eLearning every day, and those who have never engaged in eLearning may be reacting to the trauma of how their lives have been changed in recent months.
Trauma can manifest in many forms.— Brad Weinstein (@WeinsteinEdu) May 10, 2020
This is why we should always seek to understand behaviors and truly listen.#HackingSchoolDiscipline pic.twitter.com/Brgwe3y4ty
It is challenging to know exactly how a person is coping with life, especially if they do not email or correspond or join in any of the conversations and this can lead to assumptions or question or doubt yourself as a teacher and adult who genuinely cares for young people and their wellbeing. Moving to eLearning has been a challenging process, a carefully cultivated relationship of students and teacher from face-to-face learning is evolving and changing over time. This in part is due to some students leaving our virtual space, some only dipping in and out and the rest of us holding the glue of the class together and trying to move forward.
I think I may have reached the pinnacle of my distance teaching experience today. I asked my students about their physical gains while learning from home. Definitely some of the most rewarding responses ever! #HPEatHome— Sherri Spelic (@edifiedlistener) May 12, 2020
I loved this tweet from Sherri Spelic, where she takes the time to delve into what her students are up to and asks them open-ended questions that are designed for her to listen and then celebrate with her students. I believe that this is so important for our young people so that their experiences and learning become central to what is being discussed with carefully crafted questions or prompts to give their reflections voice.
I have sent some more emails to students this week, inviting them to come back to PE and to finish the year up strong with their voices and experiences a part of our class. I have shared a picture of me holding my parent’s cat and just told them that things can be challenging, that they are always welcome and invited them back to us. We miss them. I miss them. And I genuinely do miss them. Our class is not the same without their voices and faces in the room.
How might we encourage our students to feel included in our classrooms if they have not been in there for some time? How might we make them feel welcome, and not feel any guilt for not having come in before? How do we create space where others in the class can encourage them too? And make the transition easy for them so they are more likely to stay and possibly bring in others? I am still ponding these questions, as I hope that my students reply to my email or better still, just show up in our classes this week, ready to play.