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Tips for using Scrum to keep your remote students on task

The current situation with the Corona Virus pandemic has thrown a curveball on our plans for the next few months. Wherever you are, I hope you are safe, and doing well, given the circumstances. 

If you are a teacher, you must be trying to figure out, how to best help all your students. If your school has decided to go remote with your classroom, I know how confusing it can be. 

With the students getting used to new technology, and this new way of working and collaborating with the rest of the class, it can be not very easy to keep everyone on task and moving forward. 

As an Agile coach and team lead, I have a lot of experience working with remote software teams and have learned a lot in the past few years on how to keep my team motivated and on task and how to sustain transparency. 

With these next few tips, I hope to help you and give you some ideas on how you can use the scrum principles to help your class function smoothly: 

Create small, manageable class goals: Don't get into the specifics with this, but have broad goals for your classroom. More importantly, make the goals more about the process, and not the end result. For example, instead of creating a goal like: 'Let's work on this Algebra concept for the next few weeks', opt for something like 'Let's make sure everyone in the class works on Algebra for an hour, every day for the next few weeks.'

This not only makes the goal seem more manageable but creates a feeling of common intention for the entire classroom. Your students are more likely to succeed if they have small manageable tasks they can do every day. As long as they put in the effort, they are doing great.

Also, ensure that the student's families are aware of these goals. 

Create a scrum wall for the class: I have an article here, explaining in more detail how you can do that and how it can help. You could use a tool like Trello to do this. Trello is super easy to use and is free as well. 

Morning check-in or stand up: Every scrum team has a morning meeting before the start of a day called the stand-up. The agenda of the stand up is to talk about 3 things: 

  • What you achieved yesterday, 

  • What you plan to work on today

  • Are there any blockers that you are currently facing?

The stand-up meeting is not more than 10-15 mins and ensures that everyone on the team is aware of what everyone else is working on. Stand-ups encourage accountability and transparency. 

Depending on the size of your classroom, you could set up a stand-up using a video conferencing tool like Zoom

Ask your students to stick to the stand-up agenda every morning.

If your class size is quite large (more than ten students), then I recommend splitting the class into groups of 10, and each group can organize their own stand-up. You can make one parent volunteer to sit in on these stand-ups, but ultimately the stand-ups should be run by the students. 

I want to highlight here that stand-ups are not a status meeting, and no one (including the teacher) should be “in charge”. 

Daily end of day reflections/retrospectives: Scrum teams usually organize retrospective meetings every few weeks to discuss what has been going well in the team and what can be improved. 

I would encourage you to have daily reflections with your students to gauge how everyone is doing, discuss something interesting or inspiring, and to bring the day to a close. 

Be realistic: Working and learning remotely is very different from working together in the classroom. Give your students time to adjust to this new way of working. Most teams take a few weeks to get used to a change, so it helps to have realistic expectations. Make sure your students and their families are aware of this too.  

Create a class calendar: Make sure all of the above meetings are on a shared calendar. The calendar should be shared with the students and their families. Set clear agendas for each meeting, and encourage everyone to be on time. 

I hope you have found the above tips useful. Please let me know if you have any questions, I will be happy to help. 

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