10th grade youth tell us how to get better at online learning

The word youth is written in black capital letters on a blue background.

-by Tim Grivois-Shah, Ed.D.

I recently read Marilyn Pryle’s post on what her 10th grade students said when asked “What did any teacher do to support you with online learning?” This post is powerful for two reasons:

Listen to our learners. Youth are experts of what being in our learning spaces is really like.
  • Everything Marilyn offers is easy to do and reasonable for students to expect of us.
  • Marilyn’s suggestions are not Marilyn’s. This list exists because Marilyn listened to her learners.

Easy and reasonable

Ideas like responding to email and having a consistent place and time for students to look for assignments are important to do whether we are learning in person or learning online. They model professionalism and demonstrate respect for our students.

Listen to our learners

Much of my work with schools involves finding out how students are experiencing the learning. I might host a youth listening session, do one-on-one interviews, or help schools analyze survey data. And, while the work usually starts with me leading these kinds of activities, my goal is always to help school develop the habit of hearing what their youth and families are saying.

Marilyn’s piece offers teachers and school leaders specific, helpful, and achievable actions towards creating online learning spaces that are as warm, nurturing, and rigorous as possible. And it all started by asking a question: “What did any teacher do to support you with online learning?”

Tim, I’m not even sure how to teach right now…I truly don’t have the emotional or mental space to do something like this.

Right now, I’m as worried about my colleague’s well-being as I am about our students. There’s a pandemic happening right now, and that’s making every aspect of our work trickier than it needs to be.

It’s understandable if creating a survey and getting feedback from children and youth feels like it’s too much. Here are some smaller, tinier ways of creating space for youth to be heard:

  • Just use Marilyn’s list. It’s a good one, and it came from youth.
  • Start by asking just one student who’ll talk to you honestly.
  • Put off the content until you and your learners work out the routines and procedures.
  • Let families know your plan and ask them if it’ll work for them.

Leave a Reply