As we are quickly discovering, distance learning has its share of challenges. There’s new technology to navigate, lessons and assignments to adapt for use outside of the classroom, near-constant questions and clarifications, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The biggest challenge is that for most of us, distance learning is new and scary, and it has come upon us quickly. We’ve been thrown into the metaphorical deep end, and we’re trying to stay afloat.
As we navigate this different way of learning, teachers and students alike are dealing with various fears and concerns that may have arisen in these uncertain times. These may include:
How do we stay positive and not dwell on the negative? Read on for some tips and advice to help you on your distance learning journey. We hope they help to address your fears and concerns as well as your students’.
You are more experienced and resilient than you give yourself credit for. While nobody has dealt with this exact situation before, you have succeeded in difficult situations in the past, and have grown and learned lessons to get you to where you are today. Let’s look back on those times. Try this exercise with your students
You can get this exercise in worksheet form at the bottom of this page.
Presumably, distance learning is not only new to your students, but is new to you too. Remind your students that you’re all learning together. When questions or problems arise that you don’t know the answer to or have an immediate solution for, say so. See if you can resolve the problem together, or let your students know that you’ll find out as quickly as you can and get back to them. Once you and/or your students find or create a solution, write it down or add it to a virtual FAQ page, so you and your students can refer to it if a similar question or situation occurs in the future.
It may help to share your own fears and concerns with your students, when it’s appropriate to do so. For example, if they’re nervous about doing a virtual presentation on a new and unfamiliar app, share with them how you felt nervous the first time you led a class virtually using Zoom or Google Classroom. (The “What If” Game can be useful to help students with fears and worries.)
Try polling your class to find out what they’re interested in learning about through distance learning, and HOW they want to approach their topics of interest. They may come up with interesting suggestions that you hadn’t thought of.
Now would be a great time to work on devised theatre exercises for students to explore topics they’re interested in, in a theatrical manner. You might also want to use devising exercises to help students address their own thoughts, emotions, and concerns about their current situations and the state of the world at this moment. You can also lead your students in mindfulness exercises to help them (and you!) relax, let go of worries and stress, and focus on the present moment.
Talk with your colleagues at your school, as well as other drama teachers, to see how they’re coping with distance learning, and share tips, tricks, and survival methods with them. Be sure to keep in contact with your administration as well, to stay up-to-date with news, changes, and policies, as well as to keep them informed of how you are faring. Don’t forget that Theatrefolk has a great section entirely devoted to distance learning and the Drama Teacher Academy has tons of resources as well. We’re here to help!
by Lindsay Price
Choice boards give students the opportunity to choose how they want to learn a particular subject. Create Your Own Choice Boards: Drama Activities can help encourage your students' independence by allowing them to take an active role in their learning.