Whether your school has students attending in-person, online, or a hybrid model, there’s still one thing that needs to stay mostly virtual. Student clubs. With social distancing, it’s nearly impossible to have groups of students meeting during lunch or after school. But school clubs are incredibly critical during this time where relationship building is on the decline. Students are all looking for connections, and clubs are the perfect way for them to build bonds over a shared topic of interest. Here are tips for moving your school clubs virtual this year.
Choose Clubs That Work
Take a step back and assess your existing school clubs. Some (think robotics) may need to be on hold until spring at the earliest. But there may be space for new ones this year as well. Poll your students and families to see what clubs they may want formed. Talk to existing club facilitators and see if they have thoughts on taking them online. Some great clubs that work virtually include:
- Book club
- Writing club
- Photography club
- History club
- Pi club
- Magic club
- Science Olympiad
- Speech and debate
- Foreign languages
- Gay-straight alliance club
- Volunteer club
- Environmental club
- Business leaders of America
Host Virtual Sign-Ups
Most clubs host sign-ups during lunchtime during the first weeks of school. If you’re doing online or hybrid teaching, this won’t work. Consider having a central hub with all of the available clubs and link to their sign up sheets. Then send a link to the hub in your email newsletters that go out to families. Ask teachers to let their students know about the clubs. The more students that sign up, the better!
Once you’ve got your clubs established, meet with the facilitators to establish protocols. What online tools will they be using? Will they be accessible to everyone? Will they offer some asynchronous activities for those that can’t join during a live meeting (perhaps a private chat group online for discussion purposes)? Will videos be recorded? Attempt to have consistency with existing school technology as students don’t need yet another thing to learn!
Allow for Sidebar Conversations
Clubs are a way to connect. Prior to an in-person meeting, students most likely mingled and caught up on the latest happenings. Allow for a few minutes of this when you open your virtual meeting. Then bring it to the topic at hand. Consider sending out an agenda before the meeting, or post it for everyone to view. “We try to make [each conversation]as open ended as possible and let people say whatever they feel they need to share as long as they are respectful to each other and are open to hearing other perspectives,” said senior Indu Danturti, vice president of the Conversation Club at his school.
Think Outside the Box
Existing clubs (and even new ones) may be able to continue if you think outside the box. “We’re planning on having online interactive script readings of full-length plays and shorter 10-minute plays. We’re also hoping to host a mask-making workshop in conjunction with the costume shop,” says Nicole McCauley, president of her school’s theater club.
Extend it Further
Since so many clubs will be online this year, why not expand your horizons and see if other schools want to participate? You could reach out to other schools in your district, or search for ones in other states or countries. Your students will get to meet new people and diversify their thoughts and interests.
Online Tools to Use
Looking for ways to up your game? We have a wealth of online tools to help establish your club and keep it active.
For texting and keeping conversations organized.
Video Conferencing Tools
For virtual meetings and smaller group breakouts.
Document and File Sharing Tools
For sharing and hosting club documents and files.
For creating club flyers, logos, and more.
Time Tracking Tools
For tracking time and volunteer hours.
What are your thoughts on virtual school clubs? Share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE Facebook group!