Distance and hybrid learning
How classroom management software supports distance and hybrid learning
November 19, 2020
Some K-12 students are eager to tackle their work every day and don’t need a lot of reminders from their teachers, even when they’re learning from home. Other students, however, are more prone to distractions and missed assignments, becoming more and more disengaged as the school year continues.
Parents and teachers alike are struggling to keep students engaged when learning from home. But, it’s a battle worth fighting, as engagement plays a huge role in determining student success in both the short and long term.
What is student engagement?
We can look at student engagement as students’ energy and drive to participate, learn, work effectively, and achieve their potential at school.
Higher engagement has been shown to lead to higher performance on standardized tests, higher academic performance, better persistence and graduation rates, and even higher occupational achievement after school.
Moreover, disengagement can have negative consequences for students’ performance and well-being, and those issues can affect both their current and future success.
The challenge is that distance and hybrid learning make it more difficult than ever to keep students engaged. Parents and guardians are doing their best to balance their own work with their students’ needs, but most are unable to watch their kids all day to ensure they’re studying. And without the right digital tools, teachers may not be able to fully recognize when students are becoming disengaged.
What does disengagement look like?
Dr. Andrew Martin, a researcher and Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of New South Wales, has studied students across different age groups to discover how we can quantify student engagement as it relates to motivation, giving us a clearer picture of how to reverse negative patterns before students become disengaged.
His Student Motivation and Engagement Wheel gives us a way to visualize the types of behaviors and engagement that indicate a student is engaged or disengaged. Students with positive motivations like self-belief, learning focus, and valuing their education are more likely to engage in positive engagement through persistence, planning and task management. However, the engagement wheel also shows that students with negative motivations, such as anxiety, failure avoidance, and a low sense of control are more likely to display negative behaviors like self-sabotage, and ultimately, disengagement.
So if we want to keep students engaged in their learning, it stands to reason that we have to find ways to address their motivations as well as their behaviors.
How to keep students engaged
Keeping students engaged starts with fostering positive reasons for them to participate and reducing their negative motivations. Many educators we’ve spoken with were already utilizing these strategies before the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools.
However, in the absence of face-to-face contact and the social support systems students are used to having at school, teachers have to ramp up these efforts even further to support students who are distance learning.
1. Create support for students to fail forward.
Many educators we work with have shared the benefits of teaching kids to fail forward, or to learn from what went wrong. Not only is it a valuable life and career skill, it can also help students maintain a more positive self-image.
One way to teach students to fail forward is for teachers to model making emotion-free mistakes. For example, a teacher might purposely miscalculate a math problem, then immediately correct it and state what they learned from doing it incorrectly the first time, in order to normalize making mistakes.
Teachers can also share stories of famous entrepreneurs, presidents, and other heroes who have failed forward to show students that failing is a human experience. Failing means you’re trying. Whatever your favorite methods for teaching kids to fail forward, ensure you’re doubling down on them while students are learning from home.
2. Make students feel they are in control.
Feeling a lack of control over their own lives or learning experiences can be demotivating for elementary, middle, and high school students. There are a number of ways to give students a greater sense of control, such as:
· Using screen broadcasting tools to have students present part of a lesson
· Letting students choose between two lessons or assignments
· Giving students one “pass” to skip an assignment when they’re having an off-day
· Offering extra credit projects
Students who feel they have more control over their learning are more likely to stay engaged. Another aspect of student control is engendering the belief that, if they work hard, they can achieve good results. So when students are having more difficulty mastering a subject, it’s important to help them note and celebrate the small victories along the way.
3. Reduce anxiety with open lines of communication.
There are many things that can cause anxiety for students while distance learning, including:
· Feeling they can’t get answers to their questions
· Worrying they’re doing the assignment incorrectly
· Dealing with disruptions in their household
· Asking a question in front of the entire class
Teachers can help reduce these concerns by providing a real-time, direct line of communication, such as instant messaging, where kids can “speak up” without fear of judgement from their classmates to get clarity on the assignment and receive help on their questions.
Of course, anxiety can have a variety of causes. Students may just need a caring adult to listen, or you may sense they’re missing social time. In the latter case, you can help by scheduling online meetups where the class can socialize for a few minutes before or after class.
4. Tie lessons to positive future outcomes.
Oftentimes, adults make the mistake of trying to frighten kids into taking their education seriously by running through the list of long-term consequences that come from disengagement. But as we’ve seen, this can cause students to avoid failure, sometimes to the point where they disengage as a means of protecting their self-image.
Instead, we recommend encouraging engagement by tying lessons to positive future outcomes. For example, if you’re working on a visual project, mention a few types of visually driven careers students could consider. As students learn math problems, encourage them by saying they’ll now be better prepared for their SATs or college courses. Helping students tie what they’re doing in the moment to a positive future outcome can be extremely motivational and help fight disengagement.
5. Check in with students individually to foster self-belief.
Students gain their self-confidence — or lack thereof — first from the adults around them. It’s great to praise students in front of the class, but it’s equally important to have one-on-one chats with students about their individual strengths and how you see those strengths contributing to their growth and success.
Some students may not receive this kind of encouragement at home, and in these stressful times, it’s more important than ever for them to internalize positive feedback.
6. Leverage classroom management tools to keep students engaged.
Finally, teachers need a way to see what students are actually working on in order to understand how engaged or disengaged they are. Plus, many students will improve their focus if they know a teacher can see their screen.
Using your classroom management software’s monitoring features is a great way to promote transparency and oversight. If you do see a student has gone off track, you can try first correcting the entire class.” If the behavior continues, we recommend messaging the student individually to see why he or she is having trouble focusing. It’s also a great idea to use your classroom management software to limit websites that prove to be recurring distractions for students.
Watch Our Webinar on Facilitating Distance and Hybrid Learning with LanSchool
As part of Lenovo’s six-week distance learning series, we recently held a webinar that walks through the challenges of engagement in remote learning and how LanSchool Air can help you regain students’ focus. Dive deeper by watching the webinar playback or downloading the playbook.
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