Crystal Tompkins
UX Designer | Product Designer | Illustrator | Educator

Remote Learning & SEL

Addressing social and emotional learning needs during remote learning for students.

Remote Learning was hugely isolating.
SEL Remote Learning Tool

Overview: Many of you know students who struggled in the 2020-2021 school year. Teachers did, too.

During our remote learning time, I identified that my students lacked a method for expressing their emotions and individual needs.

I built a tool that gave them agency, choice, an expectation of privacy, and a quick response time.

Objective: I wanted to not only give students an appropriate amount of content, and make good use of their time with me, but also address their SEL (social emotional learning) needs.

My role: I was the content educator with a caseload of 150 students that semester. My students ranged in age from 13-20, with mixed classes of high school grades. Students ranged from honors students to supervised special education students. I was teaching 3d animation, photography, advertising, and an introduction to digital arts course.

SEL Remote Learning Tool

Starting with Data

  • We had a low rate of participation in our district for remote learning. My classes had between a 40-60% attendance rate for each live class session, which was common.

  • The school found that we had an average of 55% submission rate on assignments during remote learning across the board.

  • Some students never attended a live class, nor ever made contact in any way.

  • Cameras were encouraged, but not required in our district, which meant an average of 6% of students voluntarily turned on cameras.

  • Students also were very hesitant to speak aloud on camera. Hearing 25% speak out loud in live class meetings was the high end of participation, with a slightly higher percentage being comfortable typing in the chat.

How might I support my students' SEL needs during remote learning?
I created a Google Form, along with a emotional identification chart I illustrated, to use as a daily check-in form with each of my live classes.

I created a Google Form, along with a emotional identification chart I illustrated, to use as a daily check-in form with each of my live classes.

Daily Check-in Form

Thoughts in Construction:

  • I posted this tool for each group of students I met with during our live sessions. The form also lived on our Google Classroom page so students who did not attend a live session could also complete it on their own time.

  • I included questions about mental and physical well-being concerns.

  • I added spaces for free-form answers as well.

  • I originally was going to use copyright-free imagery, but none of the emotional illustrations had the breadth of the emotions I wanted, and most of the illustration styles were too immature for high school students.

  • I created a base shape, and iterated off of known emoticon ideas, trying to keep the illustrations as clean and consistent as possible.

Front End: student-facing
back end: data collection
Outcome & Learnings

This was an incredibly useful tool.

One of my biggest concerns was the lack of communication and feedback I was getting from students. This allowed me to gather information in a non-threatening way, that wouldn't put them on the spot nor embarrass them.

  • The information I received from student allowed me to immediately follow-up with them as individuals, or to contact their guardians, coach, and/or counselor.

  • I found about 82% of the students attending live sessions used this form consistently.

  • Students who did not attend live sessions also used the form.

  • I received written and verbal feedback from 75% of students stating they appreciated this option for communication.

  • This was another pathway to building rapport and trust with my students. If they told me something via the form, they knew that I would get back to them within 24 hours.

  • I was able to connect at least 3 students with their counselor, who got them into mental health supports asap, as well as alerting their guardians to the issues.

  • I was also able to provide this graphic to Oregon Teen Librarians for their use.