Facilitating learning - Germany
Primary school teacher, 14 years of professional experience
In the 2019/20 school year, I came back to the primary school after about 3.5 years at the Universtät, where I had done research in teacher education, and took over a 2nd grade class. At the second lockdown, I did video conferencing with the class in small groups (7-8 students each). After having very short conferences once a week in the beginning to see each other and keep in touch, we gradually did content work online. The pupils have learned online how to write with a fountain pen. For some children, this is very difficult to learn even in face-to-face classes. But with guidance, it worked well online. They always had weekly plans where it was very explicit what they had to do on each day, especially in German and maths. In the beginning, I still gave them choices, but the parents signalled to me after a few weeks of school closure that they could only motivate their children for the standard workload. That was all they could do. Therefore, the instructions were very guided.
In Grade 2, yes, you are supposed to introduce the children more and more to reading whole books. At first I had no idea how to do this online. To motivate the children to read, I usually read a book to the children at the end of each school day, so that one or two books are read together in the course of the school year. As I found it difficult to read such a book to the children during the synchronous video conference, I had to come up with a different approach.
In what ways did you respond to this dilemma/difficulty?
I came up with the idea that it might also work if I read the book to the children via Youtube video and they could then watch these videos whenever they felt like it. I then spent evenings reading children's books aloud and generating Youtube films. Gradually, I also learned to generate QR codes and include links that led to the self-generated Youtube videos. I would never have imagined before that I would do that, nor that I would even really enjoy it. The children were also totally happy. It was also good that I could put different stories online and that everyone could choose a story. That's not possible in face-to-face lessons, where I read out several stories at the same time.
Parents have also told me that their children want to hear the stories again and again because they are so used to my voice and it does them good. Reading aloud via video had an incredible potential, which I had not thought of before.
What are the implications for teaching, learning and my understanding of the role of a teacher?
Online learning is really a whole new situation and it is such supposedly small things as being able to hear the familiar voice of their teacher that support the children in their learning. It's hard to imagine if you haven't experienced it yourself.
I also didn't realise how important the teacher and the school are for learning. It's nice to see what a responsible job we have.
Keywords: technical skills, interaction with students, facilitating learning, student motivation