One classroom routine I’ve used for years is to start off each week with personal updates. We ease into the week by hearing about recent or upcoming events in students’ lives – for example, extracurricular events in sports, publications, or performing arts, or personal news such as birthdays, visits with relatives or weekend activities.
This year, most of my classes have seemed more reluctant to speak than was typical pre-Covid. I even joked with one group of students, “You know your cameras are all on, right?” My attempt at humor, suggesting in-person dynamics should be better than Zoom, fell flat.
But, another group of students, an hour later, provided the highlight of my year so far. I can’t even remember how a student update led us to the topic of singing, but I half-jokingly suggested we could start the week with some karaoke. There were enough responses of “yeah!” and “sure!” and “let’s do it!” that I ended up finding a karaoke video on YouTube and, for a minute, I had about 20 sophomores singing the Backstreet Boys song “I Want it That Way” – actually singing. For fun. In English class.
I’ve held on to that moment and continue to seek opportunities to simply connect with students in any way that works for them.