A point of pride for Watkinson faculty is that we teach the range in heterogeneous classrooms, day in and day out. With small classes (average size is 12-13) and a block schedule where we get to spend 85 minutes with our students every other day, it is conducive to seeing and knowing our students and being able to meet them where they are. I wasn’t sure how this mindset was going to translate into a remote learning system.
About two weeks into classes, I shifted how I use my class time. Now, we start each block with a synchronous time where we connect with each other and either review the previous day’s assignment or roll out a new one. Then everyone mutes themselves and works. For 20-30 minutes in the middle of the class students work independently while I toggle between their assignments on google classroom, and any student who is struggling can unmute their mic and reconnect one-on-one with me on a Google Meeting. I also have used this time to meet with each student individually, give them specific feedback, and clarify material for them. This system has allowed us to connect while they are in the midst of the class just as we would if I were wandering from table to table in my actual classroom. After that, the whole class reconvenes on Google Meet for discussion and closure. It’s been a transformative shift for me.