VIRTUAL MOTIVATION

It’s an intriguing, even perplexing, problem. In some ways it’s a puzzle that I often faced in my 36+ years as a church pastor. How do you motivate virtual students? How do you shepherd the flock to move along toward the green pastures of more knowledge, understanding, and problem-solving?

I’ve wrestled with the dilemma for some time now. Not being a teacher, but kinda being a teacher, I do not have any neat-and-tidy educational formulas that fit the situation. On the other hand, it might be to my benefit that I don’t have any neat-and-tidy educational formulas to make me believe that this pandemic era eLearning setup is something that can be answered with a step-by-step lesson plan.

My concern is more for the students who are lower performers, students who struggle enough as it is in a normal school classroom setting. To be sure, their are some students who could care less and are using this time of virtual learning to improve on their gaming skills. One student this past week didn’t realize that his microphone was unmuted and the teacher could hear the “ping, ping, ping” of a video game gun being fired. As I’m discovering, there’s even a few parents who are uninterested in their child’s disinterest. But there are those students who need an in-person human voice to help them navigate a problem or assignment. They are the students who don’t see what needs to be done as a math calculation, but rather an unclimbable wall that inhibits them from moving forward.

How do you motivate young minds to gain ground when there is chaos happening all around them?

For me, the relationship with students is the pavement for the instruction. Knowing the students– their dreams and fears, the things that bring smiles to their faces and the topics that make them cringe– helps them believe that I’m there to assist them, not inject more dreariness into their lives. I want them to know that I understand that they will not always be on their A-game, that some days will be immersed with a feeling of meaninglessness.

That element of caring demands more from the teachers than from them. I must be willing to go the extra mile, because their engines have stalled. A gentle push with a few words of encouragement may be the only fuel needed to get them moving again.

However, there are those students who are resistant to being motivated toward academic advancement. For those students, their loss in education must not be multiplied with a loss of relationships. Like the prodigal son that Jesus talked about, they need to know that their teachers will be there for them when they decide it’s time to return to learn. They need to believe that those who lead them in this weird way of doing school have not given up on them.

Tomorrow I’ll see four different screens full of faces, some who have simply rolled over in bed and logged on to class and some who will be expecting to learn. Like a shepherd, I’ll try my best to move the flock on down the road. I’ll punctuate the journey with moments of laughter and words of affirmation, and hopefully we’ll all survive being taken by the predators we encounter along the way.

It’s funny, in a way, that this teaching shepherd is a “Wolf”, but with an ‘e’!

Explore posts in the same categories: children, coaching, Community, Freedom, Parenting, Story, Uncategorized, Youth

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