Online learning is certainly nothing new. For more than a decade, countless colleges have been using the Internet to provide more flexible and accommodating means of instruction. With the transmission of communicable illness having become a major concern, however, more teachers are finding themselves navigating the complex terrain of distance learning, and often with little guidance or experience. Regardless of the age or education level of your charges, the four tips that follow will help you become the best distance learning teacher you can possibly be.
1. Don’t Try To Be Perfect
Most grade school students who are participating in online learning are doing so with little foreknowledge and absolutely no history with distance learning themselves. Much like their instructors, they’ve been flung into this new setup headlong. As such, they are learning as they go just as you are.
This means that you don’t have to worry about being perfect or getting everything right the first time. In fact, given the continued efforts to ensure equitable access to online learning materials, many schools and school districts are constantly revising their formats. Make a commitment to doing the best that you can every single day. Encourage your students to do the same. By setting an example of doggedness and perseverance, you can help your class survive whatever unexpected developments come your way.
2. Set Clear Expectations
Two things that are guaranteed to give everyone peace of mind are transparency and clear expectations. Students can only deliver what is expected of them when they know exactly what this is. Upload your learning plans early on and give clear instructions for all of your assignments. Make sure that every student has an easy way of contacting you with questions, and that all learners know how to effectively navigate the online learning platform that you’re using. Clear instructions and clearly expressed expectations will also make it infinitely easier for parents to offer students additional support.
3. Use The Best Technology To Ensure Clarity And Excellent Communication
While you may be limited in terms of the learning management system (LMS) that you use, you probably have some flexibility in terms of the technology that supports it. These are the programs and devices that you rely on to deliver lectures, listen to students, and host group conversations. A good online teaching headset will ensure that you aren’t missing any questions and that all of your students can hear you clearly. Consider subscribing to digital book networks for free or low-cost resource sharing, downloading apps that allow students to create short, sharable videos, and invest a quality whiteboard application. Explore your options in devices, software, and applications regularly. Keep in mind that as the need for online learning support increases, new resources are being introduced every day.
4. Make Accessibility Your Top Priority
From the outside looking in, the ability to work from home might seem like a dream come true for many teachers. In reality, a vast number of grade school instructors have discovered that teaching online is actually far more labor-intensive than teaching in-person. However, you should always make accessibility your top priority.
There will always be students facing technical issues and there will always be students who consistently have a hard time adapting to this new method of instruction. Clearly post virtual office hours where parents and students can see them. You can also share your email address and regularly connect with individual learners according to a set schedule. One of the best virtual learning tools that instructors can take advantage of is the live chat function. This function is available on nearly all of the most popular online learning platforms for school-age children. It will allow you to read and answer students’ questions in real time, even as it affords you and individual learners a reasonable amount of privacy.
Adapting to distance learning can be a challenge. However, with a vast and fast-increasing selection of digital tools and other supporting resources, you can quickly streamline your virtual classroom and your curriculum for success. Best of all, when the need for remote educational plans no longer exists, you’ll still be able to leverage many of the innovative and surprisingly effective teaching skills and techniques that you’ve adopted.