Before March, the only time I really ever heard the word synchronous used was in regards to swimming. The image that word brought to mind was 20 or so swimmers in bathing suits and yellow swim caps bobbing around in the water making beautiful designs that could be seen from above. Since March, I kind of wish this is how I would still think of the word synchronous.
Now I know that there is not just synchronous, there is a-synchronous. And it has nothing to do with people swimming and it has everything to do with managing stress levels. As we all wade through the waters of learning during COVID, here are some tips for making your teaching a little bit more of a beautiful design.
This is where all your students are doing the same thing at the same time. This is great for building community, seeing faces, adjusting your teaching in the moment, and so much more. Here are a few tips based on my own experiences.
- Keep it short and sweet. Anything over an hour is hard for any age to pay attention – including the teacher!
- Maintain the same schedule as much as possible. Last year my class met from 12:30 – 1 every day. It didn’t matter the content but families could rely on that time and were able to make their schedules work. This, obviously, gets complicated and is not always possible. But if you can make it work – we received a lot of positive feedback about this.
- Set clear expectations. Chat rooms – shut off. Shared permissions – taken care of ahead of time. Rules for cameras on/off, wait rooms, unknown visitors, etc – all should be taken care of ahead of time. When kids know the expectations, just like in school, they are more successful.
Your students have family members who are trying to do a lot – just like you. Asynchronous work helps them maintain some sort of normalcy in their own work/daily life and it allows kids to get work done independently. It is also nice for students who struggle with access to technology. Asynchronous work may be websites/apps that students can log into on their own time. It may also be packets, booklets, reading assignments, etc.
- Create ONE username and password for anything a student needs to sign in to and provide this to any and all family members who are supporting that student. This is especially important for younger students.
- Packets use a lot of paper, require more work in preparation, and take a little creativity in terms of accountability. However, this seems to be one of the most popular requests from parents and caretakers of children of all ages. Maybe it is just a few pages. Offer to send a digital version for families who prefer to print it themselves.
- Let students and families know which work is what I call a “Must do” and which work is a “May do.” Some families need or want a lot of extra work for their children. Some need as little as possible. “Must do” work will count toward a grade or for required participation. “May do” work can be done if students need extra time or if a family member needs them to work on something independently so they can do their own work, etc.
Good luck and hopefully some parts of your learning will start to look less stressful and more harmonious!