Introduction: Ready, Set, Get Virtual 7 easy, especially over video) and being allowed to be absent when not. It’s also the complications of figuring out how to balance our work and home lives when they all happen in the same square footage. Nobody has totally figured this out just yet. The nuances of our psychology—how we think, act, react, and interact with others—and a look at market trends and forces help us to understand where we’ve been and where we’re going. No matter how distant we feel, we’re all still just people trying to get on with an honest day’s work by ourselves and with each other. Building Cohesion Online: Conversations with Juliet Atkinson, Executive Coach at The Coaching Connection, and Samuel Garrison, Principal of the Camden Street School, Newark, New Jersey Sam, how have you seen things change with the move to remote work in the education setting? In education, the move to remote learning has been unprecedented, and we’ve seen our share of challenges. In-person presence allows for the critical social-emotional learning components that include sharing, teamwork, and even eye contact. When we made the transition to remote learning at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a learning curve for everyone, but not necessarily on the same things. Newer teachers might have been more savvy with the technology and were able to adapt to new tools and formats, but the more experienced teachers had the content at their fingertips. It was impor- tant that we all supported each other. Juliet, what changes are you seeing as your business transitions online? One of the skills we’re all going to need going forward is how to facilitate interactions online. Translating a workshop that I’ve done many times in per- son to an online format was daunting at the beginning, and has also been a learning curve. Success comes from a combination of being able to fluidly take advantage of the technology itself (everything from using the chat for drawing out introverted participants to polls to the hand-raise function) and figuring out the human side—what’s going to make this inviting to make you feel comfortable enough to want to engage? Especially in the online space, I’m a big fan of contracting at the beginning of a meeting. What am I asking of you, and what are the expectations? What do we need to make this a safe space? Establishing things such as confidentiality assurances, requests for peo- ple to be present and responsive, or even things like permission to keep cam- eras off if needed can help bring people together. Juliet, how do you make sure that people are connecting to each other? Especially online, there’s always stiff competition for someone’s attention with everything else happening on their screen. Notifications alone are a big distraction, plus the mental and emotional load someone is under at
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