The start of a new school year is generally filled with excitement, new school supplies, vacation stories to tell classmates. However, this year it feels a little different. Maybe a lot different. This school year is filled with uncertainty. Not just for students, but for educators and administrators as well.
Many educators abruptly transitioned to online learning at the end of this past school year, which came with several challenges. Some of those challenges is keeping students’ attention, student apprehension, attendance, and classroom moderating. So, it makes sense why some educators, parents, and students may feel nervous about the 2020-2021 school year.
A new way of teaching
AARC Member Lindsay Fox, MEd, RRT, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS, is the program director and an associate professor for the Respiratory Care Program at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. Fox was known for keeping her students engaged before the pandemic started. Since then, she has brainstormed new tactics to keep them engaged in the online learning environment.
“I have found it extremely difficult to keep students, and myself, engaged while they are at home on a computer,” Fox said.
One way Fox boosts engagement is with guest speakers.
“Providing our students with guest speakers brings more validity to the topic being discussed, and it allows the students a break from me,” Fox said.
Her program only has two full-time faculty members, which leads to burnout for both student and professor. This idea rings more true in the online environment, where it is more difficult to be yourself as an educator.
“In the classroom we play games and have discussions. I play music before class. We chat and talk about our families and weekend plans and interact in ways that can’t happen as genuinely in the online environment,” Fox said. “The educator swap idea was the same idea as guest speakers but seemed like this is a time when it would be easy to find educators all over the country that are looking for the same supplement to their online classroom. I can ask anyone to attend our Zoom meetings!”
Fox went as far as providing interested educators with a survey that had them list interest areas they would like to have a guest speaker, as well as areas in which they could be a guest speaker. This is a simple and effective way to get educators in contact with one another and an idea that can be used at any program. Fox plans to revisit this idea as she and others prepare for fall courses.