Social and Emotional Learning On-Line: Tips for Maintaining That Important Human Connection with Students and Sustaining Their Engagement Remotely

It feels weird doing online now what we would normally do with students in person every day. Academics can be hard enough in the classroom let alone tackling social and emotional learning remotely too.

Are you wondering, how am I going to have the same impact, make meaningful contact, know if I’m getting through or not if I can’t see my students’ faces? How do I use the technology available to me, make it my own, and really connect with students and parents?

You’re not alone. As an author and professional speaker who travels to schools doing anti-bullying work, I understand why these questions are important.

Below are some tips I hope you’ll find helpful. I’ve also provided some videos with guided practice.

  • Find the camera lens on your device and put a small piece of tape next to it or a sticky note with an arrow pointing to it. This will help you maintain eye contact during the lesson.
  • Make sure whatever room you’re doing your lesson from is well-lit.
  • Before you begin, take a deep breath, hold it for a count of seven, exhale, and remind yourself that you and your students are connected in spirit.
  • Always look into the camera lens. Even if you can see your students or a moderator on your screen, speak into the camera lens, otherwise it will appear as if you’re gazing off into the distance.
  • Relax, smile, talk with your students as you always do and pretend the camera lens is your window to them. Imagine their faces as you’re giving the lesson, imagine them on the other side of that window, listening and engaging.
  • You’re not on TV. You don’t have to be perfect. And even television’s most endearing moments are the bloopers. If you have a blooper moment, smile and keep going. Your students won’t remember the mistake. What they will remember is laughing with you at a time when laughter was more precious than ever.
  • If the online teaching experience makes you feel self-conscious, practice just talking into the camera. Make a few videos and find your comfort level. Recite the lyrics of a favorite song or describe the weather outside. Just have fun with it.

When school reconvenes, I hope to see many of you, either in person or virtually. Until then, let’s use this moment in history to hone our talents, strengthen our resolve, and deepen our bond with each other, our students and parents. We got this.