Over the past year, teachers, administrators, students and parents are navigating the ever-shifting educational landscape. Working remotely is changing teaching methods and it affects how school teams work together. Addressing certain questions will help teams ensure that they’re doing their best work. If you’re new to working remotely 100% of the time, this would be a significant adjustment. You may have not been prepared to turn your living space into your workspace for the foreseeable future.
Given that this has become the new normal, here are tips for remote teaching that will make your experience less stressful, more productive, and more meaningful.
1 - Engagement and interaction still matter
During remote teaching, one of the important things teachers and educators need to be mindful of is keeping students engaged. A recent study estimated that schools closing during the pandemic has affected nearly 70% of the global student population. Previous techniques used in traditional classroom environments may not be suitable or effective during remote teaching. Some schools adopted learning and communication management systems to remedy this situation. You could similarly benefit from implementing these communication tools to engage with your students in your online classroom.
Moreover, during this time of relative social instability, different home situations, and reduced standardized testing, teaching for coverage has become a weaker concept than in the past. So make sure to teach for engagement and comprehension, not for coverage. This doesn’t mean teachers shouldn’t be covering the material for the school year, but rather emphasize more on students’ engagement and well being as you work with them in an online learning environment.
2 - Communicate and connect
From communicating with students during class and keeping them engaged, to communicating with parents and connecting with other teachers. Effective communication is most crucial during remote teaching. Teachers want to feel safe and equipped to teach. It helps to connect and communicate with fellow teachers during this time. When teachers communicate and support each other, it takes away some of the heavy workload, stress and uncertainty. Collaborate and share resources, tools, tips and ideas that have helped your class, as it can also benefit teachers and students in other classes. Rely on a common online communication tool that all teachers can easily use to stay connected.
Parents are also part of the solution. A study conveyed that 81% of low-income parents were highly concerned about when schools will reopen. One of the main positive outcomes of this pandemic is that parents have become more engaged and involved in their childrens’ education. Teachers can encourage that effort. The road to effective remote teaching gets easier when teachers and parents effectively communicate with one another. Whether it’s through one-on-one chat, direct updates to all parents, or even virtual parent-teacher meetings, connecting with parents in the most effective way for you to get them on board. The more informed and connected parents are, the more they become your frontline means of help when students have questions or concerns. If they have proven to be effective, there’s nothing stopping you from integrating it once you return to regular classes.
Ensure that communication is kept simple and seamless during remote teaching. Instead of sending out and bombarding parents with a ton of emails about their child’s progress and education, find one platform that everyone can access and benefit from, and consolidate messages and updates to be clear and concise as possible.
Moreover, don’t forget to communicate your expectations clearly to your students so that the entire class is informed and on the same page. This includes the topics you want to cover, quiz and assignment deadlines, and what you expect from each student during this school year. It’s also important to remind them of rules and principles that you intend to implement in your virtual classroom.
3 - Be available and stay flexible
Encouraging your students to communicate with you not only during class hours can prove to be beneficial. Other educators in similar situations recommend to let your students know when you are available and how you can be reached. Ensure that you’re available when they’re in need for immediate advice or help. You can choose to set virtual office hours outside of class time where students can approach you.
You can also determine whether you want students to contact you directly or voice their concerns and queries to you through their parents. This way you can maintain only direct contact with their parents outside of class hours. Ensure that your contact details are visible and available, but be sure to specify the times they can contact you. You can also utilize and benefit from a communication platform to communicate with your students outside of class hours or after the lesson.
Staying flexible and understanding is key to successful remote learning within your virtual classroom. Keep in mind that home lives are different – from the traditional classroom environment, as well as from one home to another, and can change from one day to the next. So set aside some time to allow your students to voice their concerns and socialize with one another. Students, especially young children, don’t have a way to play together on the playground or during recess anymore. They’ve lost that social connection and opportunity to relax with friends, which is an essential part of a healthy development. A recent survey concluded that 42% of the teenagers surveyed were feeling more lonely than usual. Encourage students to socialize by integrating games, quizzes, informal check-ins and humor into your virtual classroom.
However, as much as you need to be flexible and available for your students and their parents, setting boundaries and a prominent work-life balance is essential for your well-being during remote teaching.
4 - Embrace technology and tools
An ever-growing list of online learning and school communication tools are available in today’s edtech market, learn to embrace this advancement in technology and integrate it into your lesson plan and classroom management. With the many learning and communication tools out there to consider, make sure to use the right platforms that will help you teach your virtual class in the most effective way.
There’s something to be said about simplicity. Find a simple communication tool that will make life easier for you and your students and will ensure the privacy of your students. Once you choose the right communication tool for you and your class, learn how to navigate through it, familiarize yourself with all the features, and use it effectively to maximize the benefits this tool provides.
Moreover, remember that not all students will be on the same level of familiarity, accessibility, and skill with new technology or tools you choose to implement. So try to be patient with yourself, your students, the parents and your colleagues as you all adjust and navigate through it.
5 - Reap the benefits of online resources
There are many online resources readily available to schools and more specifically teachers. Whether it’s guides, educational games, podcasts, e-books or audiobooks, teachers can utilize them for their remote teaching and online classroom communication. This equips teachers with a bigger range of resources to help students of all learning styles and make lessons appeal to all students.
Remote learning and teaching is the new normal for many schools, teachers and students around the world. Technology has made it possible to connect teachers and students during this pandemic, allowing teachers to impart their knowledge as if they were in the same classroom.
However, the situation has opened up newer challenges that teachers are struggling to find solutions for. We hope that these tools and tips for remote teaching will help you improve your efforts and the experience you create for your students in your virtual classrooms. Because, at the end of the day, better communication leads to better education.