We just finished the first week of “virtual learning.” In all honesty, it was not as horrible as I anticipated. I prepped a lot to make sure organizational systems were in place to make the week run as smoothly as possible. But it wasn’t long (about 15 minutes in) that I realized some of what I thought would work needed to be tweaked.
I set up a work space for each child. I didn’t realize that the kitchen was slightly in the background of the camera view in one station. Being that we are in and out of the kitchen so much, that could be distracting to the other students. I quickly relocated that child to a less distracting area.
The funny thing is, that station was the only one set up at a true desk. The others were at tables. The space I thought was a no-brainer (put a child at the desk) was the one that did not work. All was not lost…that desk became our charging station.
My vision was to have a charging station where each child could place their devices, headphones, and mice at the end of each workday. That way all devices were fully charged and in a safe space, and we were not trying to find mice and headphones before school. That part works well.
One of the other benefits of the charging station is that all cords would stay plugged in and wouldn’t be floating around the house. What I didn’t anticipate was that the devices weren’t going to stay charged all day. I wasn’t ready to abort the charging station. Instead, I tweaked our routine. Anytime the kids get a break (like for lunch or recess), they have to charge their devices at the charging station. Problem solved!
I posted a routine and schedule for each child near the charging station. This was to help me and the sitter keep everyone on track as much as it was to help them. But, I realized that each child could not see the schedule where they were working. So, I created a second schedule for them to keep at their station. What really works is having a main schedule spot for the sitter to see all schedules at a glance and also to have each student have a schedule at their station.
The kids needed a spot to keep all of their materials (notebooks, workbooks, binders, planners, etc) together. I contemplated getting magazine holders for each child located next to the charging station.
I ultimately opted for a book bin, and I am glad I did! The book bin has all the functionality of the magazine holder but has the added benefit of portability!
Each child can bring it to their station, and can move it back to the charging station at the end of the night when it is time to transform the dining room table from a desk to a place to eat dinner.
One thing is for sure: an analog clock at each station is essential. Each child is on and off Google Meet at varying times throughout the day. The clock helps them be on time for each session. I have also added a “Time Timer” to each station as well.
That way, when the teacher tells them to meet back in 15 minutes, they remember to do so! I didn’t anticipate how many times throughout the day that the teachers have them break for 15 or 20 minutes to work independently and then jump back on to review the work. It is quite easy for a child to lose track of time during these breaks.
I’ve seen it over and over with the students I work with and my own children. Most children do not understand how to use a planner. I think this process warrants an entire post, so stayed tuned for that next week. Just know that a planner is essential (maybe even more so) in a virtual setting. Use this time to teach your children basic planning skills that will help them throughout their lives.
The most important thing to know about organization is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. Don’t be afraid to try something and then tweak it as necessary. I certainly had to do that this week!
Whether you are in-person, virtual, or attending hybrid, what did you learn after the first week of school? What is going well? What needs a little more organization to make it run more smoothly?