Teaching Remotely with Tynker: Linda Nelson

Teaching Remotely with Tynker: Linda Nelson

Teaching Remotely with Tynker: Linda Nelson

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@StMarysRCDOW
St. Mary’s Catholic School
Bishop’s Stortford,
Hertfordshire, England

If the COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything, it’s that we’re all part of one global community, and that’s why we were so excited to speak to Linda Nelson of St. Mary’s Catholic School in Bishop’s Stortford, about thirty miles northeast of London. Linda’s a computer science teacher at St. Mary’s, and she had a lot to say about remote teaching with Tynker!

Working with Tynker, Linda found she needed to adjust her expectations of how each of her students would adapt to the lessons. “I am seeing some kids who are flying who I wouldn’t have expected to, and some kids that were flying are not. There are some surprises that some kids who could be disruptive in the past have done a lot better and have started engaging.” Linda tells us this has been very encouraging to parents who have had trouble engaging their children in schoolwork in the past. 

Tip #1: Be flexible, be understanding

One of the biggest takeaways from our conversation with Linda was how important being flexible and understanding of each student’s personal circumstance. “I’ve started giving them a week to do the lessons because there may be one computer per household and conflict with other kids who need to do their own work. This seems to be working quite well.”

A classroom is a controlled environment, Linda reminds us. In a classroom she can set the rules and expectations and provide the structure to ensure the learning gets done. That’s very difficult to replicate with distance learning. “Don’t automatically assume negativity if they haven’t completed a lesson. Go in with the attitude of finding out what you can help them with rather than being cross with them. Be sympathetic, understanding and sensitive to home circumstances. Some parents are really struggling and that can mean kids are finding it hard to cope. There’s so many things happening in their life, so who knows? There are usually reasons kids are not performing, you need to go in with a light hand first.”

Tip #2: Use the benefits of remote teaching to your advantage

On the other hand, Linda finds that not being in a classroom setting can have its advantages. “I really like that kids can work at their own pace and how you can differentiate between students of different levels. Kids in the same class can be working on completely different levels which is something that’s always difficult for a teacher in a classroom scenario.”

Ultimately, Linda foresees all of this leading to a big change to how schools will work going forward, in many cases for the better. She told us that her school had been considering using Tynker in the classroom since long before COVID-19 but only made the change as a result of kids needing to start learning from home. “Before the lockdown we often used to look for tools that would enrich our teachings of the kids, especially extracurricular activities that can be done outside of school. When the lockdown happened, we made the decision that we would concentrate on Tynker, especially with the free licenses.”

Linda’s glad it was a decision they made. “We really like that it links in with the UK curriculum. It’s modular and encourages kids to be independent learners. We can see exactly what they’re doing, when they’re doing it. Because people are being forced to use it, I think teachers are now starting to see the benefit of these virtual solutions. I think when we go back to normal, normal is going to change. We want to continue using it going forward.”

Linda sees bigger changes on the horizon too. “I think this will change how we all work together,” Linda concluded at the end of our talk. “The human side of things. The fact that parents are so incredibly supportive, the relationship we’re building with parents, how we’re all trying to help each other and make the best of this situation is a positive change I’m seeing.”

 Enjoyed this blog? Get more great tips from fellow educators in our Remote Teaching with Tynker blog series.
Have a great tip you’d like to share? Write to us, we’d love to share your story with the 300,000 teachers in Tynker’s global community.
Tynker enables children to learn computer programming in a fun and imaginative way. More than 60 million kids worldwide have started learning to code using Tynker.