Switching to Remote Teaching

To say that March has been an interesting month is such an understatement.  Every educator and school district is scrambling to come to grasp with the shift from classroom to online\at home learning for all of our students.  I would like to take the time to share some insights that I have from my past online, distance learning experience, and from my work with independent and alternative education students.

Remember that this is not only new to you, but it is new to the students and their parents.  Take it slow.  You will not be able to deliver instruction as you have in the past.  Yes, there are a lot of digital tools available to help you, but are they all necessary all of the time?  So, take a deep breath, and let's get down to basics.

  • Take it slow.  Delivering distance learning means that there is a lot more chunking and scaffolding that needs to happen.  So take the time to plan your lessons to include more pauses as your parents will need to catch up too!
  • Plan for one-on-one discussions once a week with each one of your parents and students, together.  This is what every independent study teacher does with their students.  This is the time that work is assigned and feedback is provided for last week's work.  Make sure that the time is spent meaningfully because now you are coaching the parent on what should happen.  Take time to build up your relationship with the parent.
  • Create Office Hours for when parents and/or students can contact you.  This can be a chatroom or a video link.  Talk with your school's or district's EdTech or IT team for the best option for you.
  • At-home learning will be messy and is not confined to a regular school day.  Students and parents will need the flexibility to learn when and where they can.  Most independent study and online learning students participate in actual learning four hours throughout the day.
  • Use a Learning Management System (LMS) to deliver content and curriculum (Canvas, Blackboard, SeeSaw, or Google Classroom). 
  • Help your parents get access to your school's messaging system, LMS, and\or Student Information System (SIS).
  • Take time to not only e-mail and mail your parents and students information, but send them a note of encouragement and let them know that you are there for them.
  • Direct instruction can be a video, either streamed or recorded ahead of time and posted for your students.  The key here is to keep the video short five or fewer minutes, with follow-up questions through Google or Microsoft Forms, GoFormative, or within whatever LMS your school or District is using.  Make sure you script your video beforehand as it will be helpful to you as you go through the lesson.  It also will help to have it available for parents to refer to as well.
  • Join a digital PLN through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.  There are a lot of great teachers and educational leaders that have a ton of experience delivering lessons in a blended classroom, distance learning environment, homeschooling, and at-home learning.  They are excellent resources on finding out what digital tools will be the best fit for you and your students.
  • Talk to you IT and EdTech teams, they are there to support you, just realize that the majority of your IT team is also scrambling to support at-home learning and learn about the new tools being employed for this.
  • Take a deep breath, you are doing great!  We will get through this and we will be stronger for this!

As a good friend of mine just posted, I think it's time I started sharing again.

Bliss, Ryan. Haiku2K72 Digital image. March 2020. http://www.digitalblasphemy.com/.


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