All over Germany, schools and daycare centers remain these days due to the spread of the Corona virus closed – in most federal states until Easter, maybe even longer. Nevertheless, students should learn something during this time.
Many teachers send work orders via WhatsApp or email, parents pick up envelopes with learning materials for their children at the school gate or in the teacher’s room. (Read here more about the digital pact and why it is late)
A few educators still offer classes online.
Samantha McGee, 35, is one of them. She teaches social sciences at the private International School on the Rhine in Neuss:
“These days our school is dead. Only we teachers are there, at least for the time being. Nevertheless, I see my students every day, and lessons start on time at eight o’clock. The virus hasn’t changed that either.
All teachers are still working in the classroom as usual, we have digital boards and computers including a webcam, with which we film the lessons and transfer them to the Internet. My students sit at home, at the desk in their room, some in the garden. We are in a large video conference. I can share my blackboard picture with the students – for example when I want to show a graphic or play a video. Using software, the young people can “report” if they want to contribute or ask questions – just as if they were sitting in the classroom. I then get an ad on my screen and can give them the floor. So even short discussions are possible.
What makes me happy: The students are very responsible with this new situation. Nobody intervenes or makes nonsense. Nevertheless, I have to make more efforts in online lessons to make the lessons exciting so that the students stay attentive. Sitting at home makes it easier to distract yourself than at school. Fortunately, there is Kahoot, a software with which I can easily build quizzes, similar to “Who wants to be a millionaire?”: One question, four answer options, everyone has to vote. So I can quickly determine whether my class has listened to me or not.
All my colleagues teach in this way. For physical education, the teachers recorded extra videos on which they can do exercises. The children can repeat them at home. We also urge students to exercise regularly during breaks or after school.
Even if digital teaching works very well for us: I miss the direct work with the students. That’s why I became a teacher. On the last day before the shutdown, I was really sad that we couldn’t see each other for a while.
If I notice in class that someone is not doing well, I still look for a personal conversation: in pairs in video chat or by phone. Many of our older students worry about their graduation. You are about to take the International Baccalaureate, a kind of international high school diploma. Many of them want to study at a university abroad. Will the universities be interested in the special conditions under which applicants from Germany will finish school this year? “