Wednesday, November 18, 2020

NYC Educator: Showing Faces (or Not) in Remote Instruction

NYC Educator: Showing Faces (or Not) in Remote Instruction
Showing Faces (or Not) in Remote Instruction

This year, our school has asked students to show their faces during remote instruction. This is a large improvement for those of us out here doing the work. Some say this is an intrusion on student privacy. There are workarounds, though, for students uncomfortable with showing their faces or homes. Students can use virtual backgrounds, and many do. For now at least, they're also free to come to our building and use school computers.

Some of my students don't show their entire faces. Some show only their foreheads. Others show half or less of their profiles. While I'd prefer to see their entire faces, I'm good with their preferences. At least I know they're there. It's difficult, of course, to get to know students you can't see. If they are available, and if they respond to questions, I can settle for whatever they're comfortable with.

It was very difficult last year looking at all avatars. You never know what students are doing, or not doing, while they're hiding. Are they listening to you? Are they playing video games? Sleeping? Having a wild party in their home? Without even inviting you? Your guess is as good as mine. Last year, when we didn't ask students to turn on cameras, virtually none of them showed their faces. You'd ask a question and  likely as not get nothing back.Why bother doing anything once your computer is turned on?

This was very disconcerting to me. In my physical classroom, I walk around everywhere, startling students who are lost in space. I'll suddenly raise my voice to a ridiculous level while passing a student whose head is down. I'll intentionally trip over something and draw a sleepy kid's attention along with that of everyone else. I'll essentially say or do anything to get kids on track.

Of course, when students don't show their faces, I have no option. I'm the teacher just sitting at the teacher CONTINUE READING: NYC Educator: Showing Faces (or Not) in Remote Instruction