Updated: May 31, 2020
Guest post by Summer Peig
Getting students engaged in the classroom is one thing. Trying to engage them in distance learning is a whole new ball game. You have kids turning off their cameras, watching TV, walking around the house, muting THEMSELVES, so they don’t have to speak. What is that?
As educators, we are always doing some song and dance to keep the interests of our kids. But with social distancing, it makes it much more challenging to hold their attention and practice skills when they are in the comfort of their own home.
So, I thought: what if I brought the outside world and opportunities to them? I’ve always felt it essential for students, especially socioeconomically challenged students, to see there is so much more available to them. I’ve always wanted to bring in talented and dedicated professionals to the school setting to share their journeys. However, they were all so talented and dedicated that finding the time to come or even video chat was difficult until now.
You know that saying, it takes a village to raise a child? Well, I called on my village!
I figured if we are all at home trying to stay healthy and safe, they must be too! So, I reached out and asked several people if they would like to share their journeys. They all jumped at the opportunity! Not only did they jump, but they also wanted to know how high and when!
To make this happen, I had to prep the students. Google Suites has been my friend on this journey. I introduced the idea that we were going to have various guests on our Meets, and they needed to research and prepare questions to ask. I created an assignment on Google Classroom that included video clips and websites to introduce the guest. The kids and I would have a conversation on Google Meet on who they were going to learn about. I presented them with a Google Slide about the person, their accomplishments, and how they got there. I encouraged the students to add questions to Google Classroom in hopes that it would spark other questions and thoughts.
When the time came, our guests would hop on the Meets and share beautiful messages of perseverance, hard work, heartache, and dreams. They are real people - just like my students - showing them they are so much more than they could ever dream. Questions ranged from, “What was your most difficult experience?” to “What is your favorite food?” to “Do you like to play video games?”
Real people. Real questions. Real answers. Real accomplishments. The kids got to experience that. And, they ate it up!
Yes, we are all confined to our own spaces, and no, this is not the ideal way to mold young minds, but we are genuinely #bettertogether. It just takes 30 minutes. You may be doing your guest speakers a favor, too, by giving them an outlet and reminding them why they are essential.
“Thank you for letting me be a part of something so pure.” - M. Remigio, Private Investigator.