When Bergen County Schools (20 miles outside of NYC) closed their doors back in March, Penny was determined not to lose the connection she worked so hard to build with her students. A middle school Social Studies teacher, Penny places great value on going beyond the curriculum to incorporate social-emotional learning in her classroom.
Without being able to see her students face-to-face, however, Penny found it extremely difficult to check in with her students and have them genuinely reflect on their well-being.
Then she found Screencastify Submit.
Priotizing student well-being
We're facing a defining moment in the history of education. 9 in 10 students across the globe are out of school. Without a physical classroom, students are struggling to complete online assignments amidst poor WiFi connections, limited access to technology, and changing curricular standards.
For those of us in education, it's sometimes easy to forget that students are managing all of that while simultaneously trying to process the reality of a global pandemic that has threatened our collective health, our economy, and our way of life.
The mental and emotional wellbeing of our students is paramount. After speaking with Penny, we were inspired to share how she kept social-emotional learning going.
Getting started: "How do you feel?"
While she was in the classroom, Penny taught coping skills and emotional wellbeing through a series of written prompts. At the start of each class, students walked in, journaled their thoughts, and then a few students shared with the broader class.
Once schools closed, Penny realized that her usual method of teaching would be difficult to continue. After all, a great deal of the learning occurred during those interactive and lively class discussions.
In April, she came across Screencastify Submit -- our newest product designed to get students creating videos -- and began a new process. She posted assignments, students recorded their thoughts on their own time, and then she responded accordingly.
Penny had almost mimicked the in-class experience with a few key differences. With Submit, every student got to share out loud, not just her students who were the most outgoing. Additionally, Submit provided an opportunity to route the students who needed it the most to additional services like her school's guidance counselor.
Penny notes that getting students started with Submit was the easy part. The prompt for her first Submit assignment was just four words:
"How do you feel?"
In minutes, the video responses started rolling in. She learned that some of her students' parents worked in the healthcare industry and could barely ever be home. Others needed to continue their commute into NYC. Many more were struggling with the gravity of the moment.
Clearly, her students were not isolated from the world around them. And many of them were searching for an outlet to share their complex feelings. Penny provided them just that with her first Submit assignment.
Going further: Coping and cupcakes
Now that the emotional turmoil her students were facing was clear, Penny knew it was time to start talking about coping skills.
She started by launching a new Submit assignment. This time, the prompt was more light-hearted:
"How would you handle being limited to eating just two cupcakes?"
At first, the answers were silly and showed off her student's middle school humor (something Penny really missed). But later, she received reflective responses that showcased their ability to self-regulate and reason through "tough" challenges.
At the end of the assignment, Penny was able to liken their thought experiment to the changing world around them. Her students finished their next Submit assignment with a few strategies to use when things got especially challenging.
The road ahead: Giving students voice
When asked, Penny has made it clear: she'll be continuing with Screencastify Submit and social-emotional learning prompts next year.
As for the rest of this school year, she plans to continue to get students talking at least once per week using a variety of different prompts. She's grown to love the ability to hear from every student, every time.
As she learns more about how her students are coping with the COVID-19 crisis, she plans to adapt accordingly and help fulfill her students' most basic needs.
If you'd like to get started with Screencastify Submit, request early access to the beta today.