When I started Sunday school this year, I was a bit apprehensive. I was worried about not being able to drive engagement with students. Teaching online when you have already established a relationship with your students is one thing but starting with brand new kids is a totally different ball game. To my surprise, the start of the year has been better than expected. Productive, efficient, and focused. We are getting into a rhythm. We are trying different things. We start on time, and our learning goals evolving and crystallizing. Our virtual classroom expectations are set up and enforced. Cameras ON at all times. Mute when not talking, Unmute when talking. Private chatting is disabled. I keep constantly reminding them to get into the habit of doing focused work. It can be tempting to open a tab or stare at their phone and that they can get away with that behavior in the short term but that will be damaging over a period of time. I remind them to put in their best work; their work is a reflection of who they are. I create assignments on Google Classroom and set deadlines. Ironically, with virtual classroom I am steering away from leaning on YouTube videos and relying more on discussion and breakout sessions. I did struggle when making presentations as I lost view of the students. My second monitor solved for that problem.
The rules and infrastucture mean nothing, if students decide not to co-operate and are unwilling to learn. Thankfully, they are eager, curious, and engaged. Some more than others. May be not at all times but enough to keep me motivated and try different things. Boatload of gratitude to the younger learners for their compliance, willingness, flexibility and patience. They make my heart full!