JoDell Heroux, Counseling and Special Education
I am a passionate educator with over 20 years of experience teaching students with and without disabilities in a variety of settings. I endeavor to be an inclusive educator by ensuring that my content is not only engaging but accessible to all students. I was incredibly optimistic about shifting to HyFlex as an instructional modality. It seemed to be an opportunity to increase access and potentially elevate my instruction. As the semester progressed, I found myself becoming disillusioned with the “limitations” of HyFlex and felt increasingly disconnected from my students. CIS was offering a session on engaging learners in the remote classroom, so I signed up, hoping to learn strategies that might engage my students and allow me to reconnect with them. I have attended many CIS sessions in the past and always found them to be tremendously helpful.
This session offered new strategies for connecting and engaging students that were easy to implement. I realized through this session that I was making things much more complicated by using a variety of tools and platforms in an effort to engage students. In one class session, I was using WebEx, breakout rooms, polls, surveys, and Microsoft Teams thinking it would engage students. What I learned is that less is definitely more when it comes to HyFlex. I took two strategies shared in the CIS session and implemented them immediately in my classes. One was the “Reciprocal Q & A”, which has helped me to connect with my students in meaningful ways. By engaging in reciprocal, low-risk questions, we are able to share information that allows us to feel more connected. The other strategy was the “Simultaneous Submit” using the chat feature in WebEx. I posed a question and had all students type their response in the chat and hold it until cued to simultaneously submit. Then we spend the next several minutes reviewing all responses. My students have responded positively to this, saying they appreciate the opportunity to fashion an original response rather than building upon previous responses. They also appreciate how it fosters engagement of all class members.
These are two, simple, strategies that have proven to be more effective and engaging than the complicated approaches I was using. Each time I attend a CIS session, I leave feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to try something new.