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Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Expert View

Understanding and handling emotion in a virtual classroom

Online Classes in TN

By Archana Sharma (Ph.D), Counseling Psychologist, RCI

“Some people read books. I read people,” Vicki Davis, a teacher and IT director in Albany, Georgia.

The COVID-19 condition has impacted everyone, especially the world of children. We adults (educators, parents) are trying to keep them healthy in all aspects -physically and emotionally. The virtual school has a greater impact on their social life. Students, educators, and all the stakeholders struggle big time to adjust to this “New Normal”.

The challenges of pandemic and virtual learning have increased concerns about young people’s mental health. Approximately 30% of parents reported that their children were struggling during the pandemic.

As we all are aware that Classrooms are settings that not only provide a platform for academic learning but also to express emotions.

Students’ emotional experiences can affect their capacities to learn, their attention span, and their career choices. Yet too often this fact is ignored by society. All the stakeholders should come together must focus on the emotional state of students.

The vital human needs — the need for love and belonging — must be met before a student is engaged in meaningful academic learning.

Understanding ways learning can occur under emotional states may be more productive, given the complexities in managing students’ emotions.

There are quite a few advantages to implement this approach:

  • We all need to understand that how students are affected by emotions. It’s just that their test/assessmentperformance is effected, or it effects knowledge and skill development also.
  •  Classroom and Internal factors contribute to the student’s emotional states. Some of the classroom factors are content difficulty, adapting learning contexts. Some of the internal factors  like social interactions, parent separation, are affecting a child; they are at risk of falling behind.
  •  Educational institutes are in a limited capacity to change the students’ emotional reaction in such circumstances, but they can work on identification of the emotional state as early as possible.
  • Educational institutions can support by maybe minimizing the educational impact. So, that child can analyze and express his feelings.
  • Educational institutes must include mental health professionals in their team. It will help the students to express themselves   and be mentored.

Some interesting finding has come up in an interaction with some students regarding the impact of virtual classroom in their life:

– They don’t feel the connection (emotional) with their classmates and teachers

– Technology has increased the anxiety among everyone

– In-person meeting with each other is majorly missed

– They couldn’t share and express their emotions the way they used to do before

– The practical and application-based explanation of the subjects (science, math)

– The school events and all the co-curricular classes were not only stress
busters but also helped to enhance cognitive functions.

Experience of the educators:

–  First and foremost challenge is the shift from offline to online mode

-Identifying and understanding the emotions of students

–   Impact of increased virtual interaction on mental health

–  Engaging students in a virtual classroom

– Learning the new mode of teaching.

Overview of parents for virtual learning

According to a report by UNESCO because of nationwide school closures have impacted more than 90% of the student population.

The survey conducted by Canvas projects how learning at home looks like for parents and students:

1) To keep children focused to complete school assignment (instead of doing other online activities) – 50.31%

2)  To establish and maintain a daily routine – 49.26%

3) To maintain a balance between household responsibilities and teaching – 41.83%

4) To maintain a wake-up and bedtime schedule – 33.40%

5) To balance work from home and teaching – 33.31%

Ideally what educators should do to fulfill student’s socio-emotional need in the virtual class?

Many teachers reported that within a few days of the shift (offline to online mode) they observed students were overwhelmed. Students didn’t know what to with their time. Teachers were also struggling to learn the technology and the new ways of teaching.

Some of the methods to help students:

– Designing of a Student-Centered Discipline

–  Language used by teachers

– Responsibility and Choice to students to make a responsible decision

–  Warmth & Support from teachers

– Cooperative Learning

– Frequent Classroom Discussions

– Self-Reflection & Self-Assessment

– Balanced Instruction

– Academic Press and Expectations

-Competence Building—Modeling, Practicing, Feedback, Coaching. 

The real situation

  • People of all ages are impacted by
  • COVID-19. But adults (educators and parents) have assumed that children are capable of coping up with this situation.
  • The emotional needs of children are not addressed.
  • Students are judged and misunderstood based on the ways they express their emotions.
  • Students are not provided with the  activities and experiences that give them opportunities to learn social-emotional skills
  • Their energy is not channelized with constructive activities hence there is an increase in their online activities.
  • The expectations are not communicated clearly to them.

Essential Skills to understand the emotional needs

  • Identifying  one’s Emotions
  • Accepting other’s perspectives
  • Listening & Communicating Effectively
  • Skills to manage Conflict skills.
  • Identifying the strengths of Self & Others·
  • Showing ethical, moral & social responsibility
  • Respect each other
  • Set adaptive and/or learning objectives
  • Working together
  • Asking & offering help & suppor
  • Observing  others’ behavior
  • Guide & Being a supportive team member
  • Communicating & network effectively with others
  • Build constructive, healthy, ethical, mutual relationships

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