Let's get the red (virtual) carpet ready and celebrate our students.
As we approach almost a full year of online classes, we teachers need to take the time to honor how well so many of our students have transitioned to remote learning and how so many of them remain committed to this new educational landscape.
I propose we host a (virtual) awards ceremony, much like the Oscars, to celebrate students who remain dedicated to their classes despite the obstacles of remote learning.
With apologies to dogs and their crazy bursts of energy, maybe we can call these awards "The Zoomies."
And if the Zoomies were a thing, here are the categories of students I would want to recognize:
Most Responsive: This award would go to the student who--when possible--keeps the camera on and consistently uses gestures or emoticons to show engagement. Little does this student know, but a thumbs up, a head nod or a virtual reaction truly propels the learning for all.
Best at Breaking the Silence: This award would go to the student who is unafraid to break through the deafening silence of a Zoom class by jumping into a discussion or answering a question. This student should be recognized for this fearless approach as it can be a bit awkward to be the first. This student also knows when to let others break the silence so that others can jump in too.
Least Distracted: This award would be for the student who removes all distractions and focuses intently on the class. Let's face it: we are all distracted by phones, tablets and other devices. This award would celebrate the student who puts the cell phone away and only takes it out when needed to complete a task for the class. This student does not have to be reminded to put the Netflix show on mute or pause the round of Among Us while in class.
Most Helpful: This award would be for the student who is unafraid to tell the teacher "the link won't open" or "I can't access the video." Instead of simply staying quiet or confused, the most helpful student reaches out and offers assistance so the teacher can navigate tech challenges. This award is not for any brown-nosing students, just polite and considerate learners who help the entire class by giving a heads up to the teacher about tech issues.
Best Performance in a Breakout Room: This award is for the student who keeps the small group on task in a breakout room. Since the teacher cannot be in every breakout room, many students are tempted to turn off screens, ignore the task at hand or otherwise skirt responsibility. However, the student who would earn this award would be the one to stay engaged, keep the group connected and lead the small group through the learning objectives.
Can there be other categories? Absolutely!
Ultimately, I hope we take the time to honor and celebrate our students who truly deserve the praise for making the most of this new learning environment.
Let's face it: education is changing. School will forever be different. Not totally different. E-learning cannot replace all in-person learning. But online, synchronous learning via platforms like Zoom works for many situations.
Since Zoom learning is here to stay, we may as well celebrate those who do it best. So join me as we honor the Best Zoom Students, or "The Zoomies." Feel free to comment below or contact CROSSWALK with your suggestions for award categories or other nominations.
And let's plan to roll out that (virtual) red carpet so our students know how much their engagement, dedication and commitment helps us all navigate this new educational landscape.