In this second part of our three-part webinar series, Enhancing Remote Learning, we look at how educators can motivate students to be self-directed learners and help them learn at home. “Supplementing Online Teaching” brings together three more educators from the Philippines and Malaysia to share real-life strategies on making remote learning effective and engaging. The webinar was moderated by Dr Carmela C. Oracion, Director of the Ateneo Center for Education Development, the Philippines.
A common problem educators are all too familiar with is retaining students’ engagement in asynchronous lessons. Our panellists discussed how interactivity in remote lessons remains key to retaining students’ motivation, even when teachers and students cannot communicate in real time. Mr Ramon B. Cristobal, Mathematics educator at Ateneo Junior High School in the Philippines, shared tried and tested methods of maximising asynchronous learning through increasing interactivity in lessons. These were as simple and creative as utilising trigger functions in PowerPoint to provide instant feedback to students, and using online platforms like Scratch to create interactive video games for learning. Ms Rachael Francis, Training and Programmes Director at MYReaders, Malaysia, shared a similar story of how maintaining a close one-to-one tutoring relationship between volunteer tutors and students ensured young learners remained engaged during their remedial reading programmes, conducted via WhatsApp. Using the popular messaging app as the primary platform for tutoring, tutors were able to send voice messages to students and instantly receive feedback in the same manner.
Our panellists also discussed the importance of working closely with the larger community to better ensure that remote lessons effectively reach students. School Head of Cayetano Topacio Elementary School in the Philippines, Mr Angelo A. Unay, shared how open communication and online get-togethers with the school community and parents were essential components of his 3 O’s plan to ensure no child gets left behind. Ms Rachael expounded on the importance of involving parents in their children’s learning, citing the pandemic as a unique situation where parents got to read alongside their child for the first time during remedial lessons, greatly boosting students’ progress and engagement.
Particularly in such challenging times, the heart of every teaching effort should be the holistic well-being of the students.
To conclude, the importance of having the student at the centre of their solutions and teaching was emphasised as the ultimate goal, with all three panellists agreeing upon the need to put students’ circumstances at the heart of any solution. Ms Rachael discussed how designing solutions with the community and leveraging on existing and accessible resources surrounding the child, such as the use of WhatsApp, were key to ensuring that students could easily access the tutoring programme. Mr Angelo understood that not every child had the resources for online learning, and thus worked closely with their local government to provide underprivileged families with internet connection and devices. House visits were also conducted if a student was absent for longer than four weeks, so that the school could better understand how to work with struggling families to keep their kids in school. Mr Ramon also discussed the need to empathise with students and give them breathing room when they feel overwhelmed, as their results at school ultimately do not define them as a person. Particularly in such challenging times, the heart of every teaching effort should be the holistic well-being of the students.
To learn more about using WhatsApp for language tutoring and creating interactive PowerPoint slides, watch the full webinar recording.
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