3-2-1 (Take-Aways, Questions, and a Reflection) on Virtual Learning

3 Virtual Learning Take-Aways:

  1. It takes time to develop a classroom culture.  Moving into the 9th week, the learning curve has been a little steep but I have come to realize that one of the roles I do not need to fulfill is that of “cheerleader.”  It’s counterproductive and actually a lie to act as if everything is “normal.”  Beginning Zoom sessions with a rah, rah, rah…”Good morning everyone!” has taken a backseat to a more invitational approach.  “I’m unmuting your microphones so you can all say ‘hello’ to each other.”
  2. Be okay with breakout rooms sometimes resembling a space for students to watch paint dry on a wall.  Sometimes they will be flat, especially if time isn’t taken to carefully craft the right “mix” of students in a breakout room.
  3. Come to peace with an unfamiliar quiet.  Maybe even appreciate how this hiatus provides students with an opportunity to improve listening skills.

2 Big Questions

  1. How do ethnic and home cultures of a student impact what they “bring to the table” in a virtual setting?
  2. What creative strategies might I be able to employ in effort to better “read the air.”

1 Reflection

  1. I’m absorbed in Erin Meyer’s, “The Culture Map.” What really grabbed my attention early in the book is the difference between low and high context cultures.

“Low-Context:  Good communication is precise, simple, and clear.  Messages are expressed and understood at face value.  Repetition is appreciated if it helps clarify the communication.

High-Context:  Good communication is sophisticated, nuanced, and layered.  Messages are both spoken and read between the lines.  Messages are often implied but not plainly expressed.”

Meyer’s continues by sharing how different countries fit on this sort of low/high context continuum.  An island nation, such as Japan, more likely to be insular and steeped in thousands of years of shared culture. Furthermore, its homogeneity also adding to a greater degree of nuance and layering of language.  How very different than the United States, the country I call home.

This has me reflecting on the nature of communication in our classrooms, especially if this is a skill we assess. Additionally, in our current Zoom classrooms, there are countless factors to consider that may be effecting, shaping, bending, and possibly blasting the classroom cultures we attempt to create.  Who would have thought about the role of distracting avatars and virtual backgrounds, or the need to mute student microphones because of the clanging of dish washing as life goes on in the houses of our students?