Shifting to online learning can seem daunting at first, but with careful planning and a laser sharp focus on what students should know and be able to do, teachers can make the shift with ease. One important thing to keep in mind is not to put too much pressure on yourself to make things perfect, or to become a digital learning guru. It takes time to master the art of designing and delivering digital instruction. When getting started, your focus should be on making as seamless a shift as possible, and on trying to establish as much of a sense of normalcy for you and your students as possible.
- Play up your strengths and don’t try to incorporate too many things at once. Use what you have and make it work.
- Set a schedule for grading, reviewing messages, hosting class, collaborating with other teachers, and planning, etc.
- Establish set office hours for students and guardians to receive real-time assistance.
- Establish a separate telephone number as your office number so students can call or text you for answers to questions, or for assistance with technical difficulties.
Do not underestimate the importance of planning for online learning. It is important to begin with the end in mind. Determine what should be assessed and what digital activities will help students get to the intended learning destination. To ease the burden of developing effective online lessons, adopt the old adage that “two heads are better than one” and recruit colleagues to help make planning more manageable.
- Be mindful of how long it may take students to complete tasks. Keep in mind that you will likely have students who must share their computer with siblings at home, and/or multiple students in a household with limited broadband capacity.
- Chunk your sessions. Students will be most attentive during direct instruction of no more than twenty minutes.
- Build in student choice. Assume you may have students who cannot access certain software and tools, so be mindful of what you ask your students to do.
- Work with colleagues to share resources and ideas to cut down on time and frustration.
- Make sure the materials you use and the lessons you create are accessible to all learners, especially those with visual and hearing impairments. Reach out to your special services contact person or special education teachers for assistance and guidance.
- Asynchronous instruction gives students an opportunity to individually work on content. This form of instruction may be best for remote learning where students have varying access to internet and virtual resources.
- Synchronous instruction gives students the opportunity to connect with their teachers and classmates in a live setting. This type of instruction is best for teachers whose students have access to a stable internet connection and internet-enabled device.
An online environment requires the same level of commitment to building relationships with students as does a face-to-face one. To maintain connections with students, teachers in digital environments should utilize practices similar to those they utilize in the physical classroom — just in a few novel ways.
- Check in with students daily when possible.
- Use humor and share stories.
- Be transparent with the students and let them know that this is as much of a learning experience for you as it is for them.
- Use students’ names during your live sessions, in written communication, and in assignment feedback.
- Utilize video conferencing tools for face-to-face meetings or pick up the telephone to call students – especially when they need assistance, when you need to explain complex concepts, or when you sense a disconnect.
- Contact parents and guardians regularly to ensure they know what is expected of students and to assuage any concerns they have.
- Remind students and guardians that this is a different mode of teaching for everyone. Allow them grace and ask for grace in return.
- Follow up on all communication as soon as possible to keep the lines open.
- Keep a record of all communication you have with students and parents. A log will be a useful reference in case issues and questions arise.
In light of our current situation in the world and in education, we know that educators have questions and are seeking out solutions and support. The Office of Personalized Learning is excited to announce the launching of the PersonalizeSC Community for this very purpose! This online platform is FREE for all SC educators and a great place ask questions, share resources, and engage in discussions around how educators are tackling remote learning and planning with a student centered focus in mind!
- To join the PersonalizeSC Community, click here: https://tinyurl.com/JoinPersonalizeSC
- For more details on the community, click here: https://anchor.fm/personalizeSC/episodes/Tough-Times-Call-for-Community-PersonalizeSC-ebotl6
We are excited to connect with you soon!”