Preparing for Distance Learning as Teacher

Ok… what in the world happened since I posted last! It feels like things have changed so quickly with long term school closures popping up amid this very strange time in our country and world.  I have been working from home since my little gal was born, and I’d love to share some things that might help you as you head into the depths of what they’re calling online or distance learning.

Designate a work space: 

If you don’t have a designated work space at home, it may be  super tricky to get and stay  focused. You also may want an area where you can display a small white board or chart paper so you can share with your students.  Then when it’s work time, you’ll have that designated space.

Before you panic, check with your district! 

There are many many different models and expectations of what distance learning looks like. Some of the general models I’ve seen shared are:
Synchronous- when all students are working/ learning, maybe even together at the same time (think video chats, text chats, online conferencing). During this kind of learning the teacher and students may be expected to be logged into a system at a scheduled time.

Asynchronous- This is when a teacher shares a series of work and perhaps instructional content or videos to direct students and then they work independently to complete the work on their own time, usually with some expectation of deadlines etc.

Blended- I have no idea if that’s what they officially call it, but many of the models I’ve seen teachers talking about incorporate a blend. This may include a teacher logging in for a short live video (maybe a recording is posted in case anyone misses it), and then a series of assignments are given. The teacher may schedule some times for all students to login to introduce a new concept etc, but it’s not a constant 6.5 hour process.

So before you panic and envision all sorts of hoops you’ll be having to jump through, check with your district to see what tools they are providing you with, what model they’re going with, and what their expectations are for students.

Expect change

Change will be constant! The resources you have access to, schedules, and even your entire approach may change and evolve as time goes on. Expect that to happen! The student you’re worried about and may want to connect with each day 1:1, may do better with self paced videos. The students you expect to fly right through the day, may feel comforted to see your face on the screen. You’ll find out along the way!

Communicate with Parents

Communicate with parents early and often. Being a trained teacher and a mom, I see TONS of parents freaking out about this whole distance learning thing and what it means for them and their kids.  They didn’t sign up to homeschool, for the most part they aren’t trained teachers, and they are feeling like they won’t know what to do (after all most of them have hated the Common Core forever anyway). They don’t know if they’ll be able to access the tools they need, or if the schedule will work. Communicate regularly, ask how you can support them, and chat by e-mail, phone, or whatever way helps them to know what to do.

Consider Routines

Remember back to the first few weeks of school when you practice routines again and again? You practiced lining up like 5000 times to get the routine down? Well these are brand new routines. When I practice routines with my students, typically I name the routine as an objective. Remember to do that now too. Consider the first few times you use a new program or tool, or the first few times you chat, to have the focus be on the chatting or on the use of the tool, instead of on new academic content.  You can probably help relieve some frustration by focusing on the function and routine first.

Remember Social Emotional Learning

I feel like when I looked at my schedule, there were always those little learning moments that were so valuable. We addressed them as they came up and students learned from them. These moments weren’t always written in the planbook (although sometimes they were). Remember that families are stressed right now, kids are stressed, and it’s worth talking about some of those important social emotional topics (how to handle frustration, communication, gratitude).

Give Yourself Grace

Know that in your teacher heart you are doing your very best with what you have.  If someone lashes out, know it probably has very little to do with  you and more to do with their struggle. If you feel like something didn’t go well, adjust and move forward. This is new, but you are going to knock it out of the ballpark!

 

I’ve already started creating some digital resources for you including a reading response freebie created with Google Forms. I’m working to grow this category as quickly as possible to help you out, so check back often! Click here for the digital stuff! 

 

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