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Hello from My Table!

Sally George teaches Foundation Studies for TAFENSW and also works at the Hotline one day a week. These are her observations being an LLN teacher in lockdown.

All the LLN classes I was teaching face to face in March I am now teaching remotely due to the COVID -19 lockdown. Students who engage with learning continue to be marked as present.

I currently deliver five LLN classes online and each one is presented differently with a mix of MS Teams classes, emailing worksheets and PowerPoints, sending links, editing writing and returning it, quick catch ups by phone, sending SMS and mailing work to students.

The class has about 70% engagement success.

This is what I know better now after 6 weeks:

  1. Online teaching is best in 45 minute chunks. Students more likely to log on and engage in the lesson if they know it is for a shorter period of time than we would normally have in a face to face classroom.  They like the rest of the class time to work independently.
  2. Teaching literacy and numeracy has always meant answering immediate questions and I’m surprised to learn this has not changed at all. They still bring their immediate worries to you.  “I don’t understand what these words mean, can you help me?”
  3. The students need to see the faces of their classmates, they really get a kick out of seeing each other. In some classes not everyone wants to show their face, but they still enjoy chatting to each other once they work out how to use technology.
  4. I have concerns about the adults in my class who are not responding to emails or posting back work – they don’t answer phone and instead respond by texting me back with “ok” and nothing more. My colleague said ‘but we worried about them exactly the same way before this, didn’t we?” I think she is right.
  5. I have loved the intimacy of handwriting on photocopied worksheets and drawing a quick picture of me waving hello.
  6. Holding words or pictures up to the computer camera seems to work better than sharing a screen. Leaning into the camera and talking closer works to elicit responses.
  7. LLN students do struggle with opening links and navigating websites. One of my students must have clicked away through the ads on a link I sent and then asked me why I wanted her to join an online exclusive boot camp and also why I wanted her to buy medicine for endurance – “very expensive miss, why?”
  8. It is hard to find a way to explain to a student what MS Teams is. “Looking at people who pop up in the TV part of the computers”. This was a really, really bad description but I did say it and it did make sense to the student.
  9. Students love coming to class – they miss it terribly. Some braver students tell us they don’t like it – they tell us they feel bothered by our emails – don’t like us ‘getting into’ their houses.  Coming to class was the best part of their day or even their week.
  10. So many women don’t get a turn of the house computer – Children and husbands get to use it most of the time – their smartphone is what they use.
  11. Scanned and tiny words on a smart phone are impossible to read
  12. Only ‘rich’ students and teachers have printers with ink
  13. This is not the way they want to learn but they say they will stick it out to the other side.
  14. My students like paper worksheets and faces.