With time to prepare for the remote learning period, English teacher Margaret Sheppard thought about how to keep her Vth form American literature classes focused and feeling connected to the material and to each other. She knew it would be important to support students as they made the best of working at home. Her solution? Ninjas!
Ms. Sheppard procured a bagful of tiny toy ninjas and handed them out before Thanksgiving break. She asked students to deploy their ninjas as a way of identifying their remote physical workspace to encourage focus and to maintain a sense of humor, which can be difficult to do on Zoom. When they tune in for synchronous Zoom classes, the ninjas are there, a lighthearted and colorful signifier of focus and persistence.
“I wanted to give everyone a little thing to designate their space,” said Ms. Sheppard, “and to fight off distractions.” Ms. Sheppard recalled receiving a small notebook from a beloved college professor, who distributed them to all of her students. For Ms. Sheppard, the notebook reminded her of the significance of the course and the thoughtfulness of the professor. Ms. Sheppard sought to provide a “reminder of the community that we have” and hopes that the ninjas will return to campus with students in January.