Student mental health during COVID-19 quarantine is important to pay attention to. As teachers navigating new online territory, we have a lot on our plates. It’s easy to forget that often, our students are struggling as well. I’m going to share 5 ways we can help our students succeed while in quarantine.
Be lenient with due dates.
You may think that because students don’t have extra-curricular activities that they have more time to complete assignments. While there may technically be more time, being confined to their homes all the time takes a mental toll. Students may think that an assignment will take them less time than it actually does, or they may not have the mental energy to complete them on time. Whatever the reason, it can be helpful to take some of the pressure off.
My strategy is to set a due date for assignments, but not take marks off for lateness. I always accept late work, without a reason, and the students know that they don’t have to worry about getting a failing mark for it. Most of the students still try to submit their work on time because we have talked about the importance of time management for success, but these are hard times for everyone, and we shouldn’t penalise students for falling behind.
While everyone is social distancing, it’s important for students to know that they are still a class and can help each other. It can really affect students mental health during COVID-19 lockdowns and is stressful when students think they’re alone an have to complete assignments on their own. If they don’t understand a concept or procedure, it’s really easy to give up and not do it at all. Having that sense of togetherness as a class can really go a long way to ensure students success.
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Depending on the age of your students, you could create an online space for them to interact with one another and ask questions. Create a secure Facebook page for students to see posts from you and make posts themselves. They can ask questions, post answers, and feel like they’re involved in the class. There are a number of online teaching websites, such as Edmodo.com that offer a similar experience, but I find that the social aspect of Facebook allows students to loosen up more and feel more connected.
Yes, you can still assign group work even when students can’t physically get together. It’s important that the class stays connected and learns how to work with others from a distance, especially since this may be a new normal for a while. Group work will also help your students feel connected with their classmates.
Assign groups and allow the students to communicate through whatever social messaging app they’re comfortable with. Allow them to organise their own work, whether its each working on a specific part or breaking the assignment into halves or thirds depending on the size of the group. This way students not only learn planning skills but also have a sense that they’re working together as a team.
Monitor absences but don’t punish
This is a trying time, and it takes a toll on everyone’s mental health. If a student is absent from class or is consistently late with assignments, ask how you can make things easier for that student. Often, that’s enough to convince the student to make more of an effort to attend the lessons. If it seems as though a student may be having a difficult time encourage the others to send messages of support. By cheering each other own students can motivate one another to succeed.
The final tip I have for you is to relax. As a teacher, you have a lot on your plate, and your stress will show in your teaching. Remember that your students are clever, and whatever they miss in the curriculum this term, they’ll pick up next year. It’s difficult to teach the same curriculum that was handed to you at the beginning of the school year, a lot has changed, so just go with it and don’t worry. Student mental health during COVID-19 quarantines is more important than meeting set targets for the term.
If you want to expose your students to information that is otherwise difficult to get across in an online lesson, make a Youtube playlist and give the link to students to watch in their free time. You can find some great educational videos for all levels. Crash Course and Crash Course Kids is a great place to start.