January Return: A Time to Review, Reflect, Refresh

As we return in the New Year, January is the perfect time to review, reflect and refresh procedures and expectations for our classrooms. Virtual classrooms are in need of the same. These procedures or expectations for Zoom, Teams, Seesaw, or Clever could be guidelines that you as the teacher generate OR even more powerful- bringing in student voice in refreshing these guidelines. Consider spending the first few days back review guidelines and expectations for your virtual classroom and digital platform. Also, consider reflecting with students how September- December went: what went well, what didn’t go well, what guidelines to keep, remove, add, or change. As you consider what to review or refresh with your class, use ideas below to guide you.  

Seesaw and Teams assignments (asynchronous)  

Consider asking students to reflect on past activities and assignments:  

  • What types of assignments/activities did you find user friendly? 
  • What helped you score well on the assignments/activities? 
  • What types of things could you try moving forward that would help you succeed on difficult assignments/activities? 

Use these reflections to create guidelines for future assignments. You could create this on a physical poster during a live session or gather the ideas and create a digital version of classroom guidelines for Seesaw or Teams assignments.  Then post these guidelines on Clever or even at the start of each activity or assignment to remind students of expectations.  

Zoom/Team Meetings (synchronous) 

Many teachers had created their expectations for live sessions to start the year off. January is a perfect time to review those expectations or refresh with new and improved expectations. Again, consider doing a reflection with students to generate a new and improved list. When students have a voice in these guidelines, there is often more buy in.  

You could still create or generate your digital copy using Bitmoji, Adobe Spark or Canva and then post on Clever after students have input.  

Items to consider during student reflections:  

  • Best learning space  
  • Ways to share ideas or ask questions  
  • Ways to stay focused  
  • Ways be ready to learn  
  • Ways to use tools such as chat, polls, screen share, digital whiteboard

Click here>Select File> Make a Copy to create your own Live sessions Bitmoji poster.  

Now that students are comfortable with Zoom and Teams consider bringing in some of the other tools Zoom/Teams has to offer. See articles on polling, live captions, and so much more.  

Breakout Rooms (Zoom or Teams)- Accountability Talk 

A large part of student engagement is utilizing the tools on Zoom and Teams such as breakout rooms and share screen (for students). Breakout rooms can be intimidating and feel like there is no control. There are a few things to help alleviate those feelings: create procedures, expectations with student voice and lots of practice. Again, collaborating with students during this return to generate expectations can help teachers to know what to look out for and what guidelines need to be put in place to run breakout room smoothly and intentionally.  

Along with having breakout room expectations and guidelines, many teachers work with students on having effective conversations while in the breakout rooms. Teachers are using accountability talk posters and using sentence starters to model and then use in the breakout room with students. Accountable talk while in breakout rooms can enhance the guidelines already put in place and help students to be effective communicators while in their virtual sessions.  

January really is a perfect time to take a look at any expectations or guidelines you had in the fall. We all know a little bit more now than we did in September and continue to learn and grow during this time of remote teaching and learning. Use this time to reflect, review, and refresh these guidelines as a classroom community to start this New Year even better and stronger than the fall. Welcome back and Happy New Year!  

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