Moments like teaching during a pandemic offer us an opportunity to recognise the priorities of working with students. The key objective in K–12 education is to maximise each child’s engagement and progression. However, with schools navigating the ins and outs of enforced lockdown, student wellbeing and connectedness have become even more of a challenge.
Nurturing relationships in a virtual environment
Teachers know that a holistic approach to each student happens organically when they are working in the same physical space, as they’re able to witness the students’ struggles and support them emotionally in their learning. However, when the physical environment is removed, the question becomes, ‘how can we accomplish the same sense of wellbeing?’ Fortunately, Schoolbox, a Learning Management System (LMS) and School Community Portal, adapts for each specific school context and provides much needed solutions in challenging times.
This blog explores how student wellbeing and connectedness can continue to grow through Schoolbox, even when education is delivered in a purely virtual environment.
Year Level Learning Pages
Providing easy access to key resources goes a long way to supporting student wellbeing. With an LMS like Schoolbox, it’s possible to provide a range of resources in one platform, that is then accessible by the student. Not only that, Schoolbox also enables the opportunity to promote meaningful wellbeing that is both interactive and elevates student voice.
Year Level Learning Pages can contain learning from key curriculum areas for a specific year, incorporate visible teacher presence, and incorporate wellbeing focused learning. They can be designed in a way that ensures learning and wellbeing focused activities sit alongside each other. These pages can then be standardised across the school and applied to each year level for consistency.
Year Level Learning Pages make it possible to ensure learning and wellbeing focused activities sit alongside each other by encouraging student opportunities for discussion and feedback through collaborative tools such as forums and blogs.
By enabling students to share timely and relevant thoughts and ideas, it’s then possible to track learning and promote student voice about their experiences, even though they are not in a physical classroom.
Schoolbox also allows for any number of teacher created instructional design videos and audio files to be incorporated into these spaces, further promoting connectedness between teachers, students, and their families.
Schools can also look to maximise a sense of connectedness to help support wellbeing by selecting from the rich array of collaborative communication tools offered by Schoolbox. These include the interactive Chat, Social Stream and Forum components which ensure each user can share their experiences and engage with specific topics. Other components like Survey, Form and Poll also provide an excellent opportunity to maximise student engagement and voice in a simple and effective way.
Using a mix of these components, your school can create a digital space within Schoolbox, dedicated purely to ‘Staying Connected’. This space can then be used to create and display content that is entertaining and has teachers visibly present at the forefront.
The dedicated space can evolve into a place where such things as teacher messages, birthday shoutouts and the obligatory ‘teachers spliced together dancing and singing in time (rarely) to an upbeat song’ can be viewed by all.
Having this content accessible to the community, and connected to the spaces in which the learning occurs, provides a wellbeing respite and also aims to achieve some of the aspects of relationship building with all community members that would happen in a traditional, physical school environment. Students will gain confidence in teachers’ presence and take comfort that they are there if and when needed.
Designated Parent Spaces
Regular and relevant communication is also a key area to further support wellbeing. As we consider the new roles parents are assuming when education is delivered via a virtual classroom, having a designated space for them to interact with each other, share successes and ask questions, is of great benefit.
Schoolbox makes it possible to create an interactive space branded specially for Parents and Friends. In these spaces, collaborative components can be added to enhance engagement, and provide opportunities for the wider community to remain connected and troubleshoot the challenges they face.
Schoolbox also has an integration with the mobile app from Digistorm so parents are able to access and contribute to this space, as well as receive notifications in a timely and targeted manner via their smartphone.
Another tool from Schoolbox to support wellbeing and connectedness is visible engagement statistics and analytics on each page accessible by all users, including students.
Having the ability to quickly and easily access these statistics allows educators to monitor wellbeing and connectedness, even from a distance.
Engagement statistics in Schoolbox will help answer key wellbeing questions such as, ‘which students are engaging with the learning and components?’ and ‘how are students interacting virtually without the traditional classroom setting available to them?’.
By providing this information, this feature allows educators to build a narrative around each individual student’s connection and thus look for further opportunities to connect with those who might be disengaged.
Agility is key
If anything, the pandemic of 2020 has shown that designing for learning and wellbeing evolves from one week to the next. As such, it is important for any virtual learning environment to be adaptive and responsive. Students and teachers are experiencing a physical distance never encountered before, and connectedness is more important than ever for students’ academic growth and wellbeing.
Schoolbox allows great synchronicity between wellbeing and learning. With the tools housed within the platform, K–12 schools can ensure their students and families are connected, learning together, have a voice, and are able to access the services they need.
Bel Clohesy has been a teacher for over 17 years, with expertise in teaching students from Kindergarten to Year 8. With a strong foundation in digital technology, Bel’s priority is ensuring an enhanced teaching and learning experience for K–12 schools.
Learn more about wellbeing and connectedness during challenging times with our following resources: