Back when I was preparing to use technology to work with my students, I made a master list of everything I would normally do during an in-person session and then figured out a way to have the same experience even if we weren’t in the same place.
One of the biggest things that concerned me was whether or not students would feel as reassured or encouraged if we weren’t in the same spot. How could I plan for this in advance?
My list actually said something like:
How will I give hugs and stickers?
And my proposed solution was:
Hug the monitor and pretend we are hugging each other
Draw encouraging sticker-like shapes next to the student’s work
Send stickers in the mail!
That’s what I was prepared for. But after tutoring this way for almost two and a half years, I’ve realized my students have developed their own additional ways of connecting with me.
My students have invented:
-students drawing stars next to their own work to show they’re proud of it
-high-fiving the webcam
-webcam “fist bump” of congratulations
(And, I have even had students pretend to feed me pizza through the webcam or offer me a chicken sandwitch! Seriously, I was not expecting that to happen!)
In all of this, I have learned that in the vast majority of cases, as long as the camaraderie and trust is there, it really doesn’t matter whether we’re in person or not. AND each kid has their own way of receiving congratulations and encouragement…even with the technology.