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Ideas to Minimize the Pitfalls of Remote Teaching

May 13, 2020

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castlelearning

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Imagine … one Thursday, Little League announces that on the following Monday, cricket would replace baseball and softball; and that participation is mandatory. The players, fans, coaches, and suppliers would be scrambling to acquire different equipment and learn the rules, strategies, and skills. Even the vocabulary would be different. Expecting such a monumental task would cause an uproar! That scenario is similar to what happened when education switched from in-person teaching to remote teaching in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

As you would expect, everyone in education is experiencing some pitfalls as they pivot their instruction. Teachers are proving their willingness to learn and flexibility to adapt to their new roles. At Castle Learning, we want to support you as you discover the best way to teach in this format. We spoke with several teachers to see what is helping them.

 

Pitfall: You Worry that Your Students are Not Getting Enough Guidance

Students and families participating in distance learning due to the virus outbreak did not choose remote learning as the best fit for their family. It was suddenly thrust upon them, which makes the situation completely different from selecting distance learning. Families who choose distance learning often do so because a parent has the skills, time, and patience to assist the children with their education. Many parents during the pandemic are working and cannot monitor their children’s schoolwork. Other parents do not know how to help their children. Many children resent the parents’ attempts to teach.

 

Ideas to Minimize the Impact:

If you teach young children, you might want to devote time to teaching parents how to help them practice reading. You can also direct families to free literacy resources to help.

 

It might relieve you that even though children are not getting the same academic rigor, they may still be learning essential skills. Children may learn practical skills such as cooking, sewing, and getting along with siblings. The abundance of unstructured time is allowing children to play, draw, sing, dance, and explore. These activities can be tremendously valuable for developing creativity and independence.

 

Pitfall: You Miss your Students, and They Miss You

The bond between students and teachers is powerful for engaging students and keeping them accountable for their learning. With only virtual contact, maintaining a relationship takes more effort.

 

Ideas to Minimize the Impact:

Try interacting with a few students individually or in small groups each day. Without other students around, you will be able to listen with undivided attention, which may feel more meaningful than you could do in-person.

 

Some students will need extra attention because of their home life, personality, or academic needs. Ensure that these students and their families get a phone call regularly. Request co-workers that know the child to pitch in with making phone calls. Ask the child’s parents, or grandparents, for ideas. They often come up with creative solutions because they know the children in a different capacity.

 

Pitfall: You Feel Overwhelmed with Emails

You are probably getting an abundance of emails from stressed parents or students. Responding thoughtfully to each email takes time and patience.

 

Ideas to Minimize the Impact:

Complex ideas and emotional topics can get lost in translation, creating more problems than they solve. In the article, Five Strategies that Will Inspire Your Students to Learn in a Virtual Classroom, Dr. Bruce A. Johnson suggests that you should have emotional or complicated conversations over the phone or in a virtual meeting, rather than by email.

 

Sometimes the sheer volume of emails makes it hard to respond individually. For non-private and non-urgent emails, combine your responses into a single email. Save all your emails on your computer so you can copy and paste the same words when appropriate.

 

Everyone makes mistakes when they write, especially when they are tired, stressed, or emotional. After writing an email, wait an hour or more before you send it, and then proofread the email for clarity, tone, and typos. Take advantage of wait features in the email settings that allow you to quickly “un-send” an email.

 

Pitfall: Finding the Right Lessons is Laborious

Many of your favorite lessons probably required physical materials. Now you must teach using mainly digital materials. Suddenly, not only are you choosing lessons, you are converting documents, evaluating educational apps, creating videos, and learning about software compatibility and copyright laws. 

 

Ideas to Minimize the Impact:

No single teacher can evaluate and create all the digital resources needed. Collaborate with teammates to share the load. Some staff may love creating instructional videos, while others might be great at finding the perfect lesson.

 

Consider trying our digital resources. You can choose from hundreds of pre-made lessons and assessments. Our software makes it easy to create original digital learning content. You can integrate everything with other platforms and learning management systems such as Google Classroom, Canvas, or Schoology. 

 

 

A Final Note on Distance Learning

 

Technology has advanced considerably since the Boston Gazette advertised one of the first correspondence courses in 1728. Lesson delivery and feedback shortened from weeks to almost instantaneous. The technology is immensely helpful, but be patient with yourself as you learn to use it effectively.

 

We hope you will return to in-person teaching in the fall. However, if schools remain closed, you will be more prepared and have more tools than before. Thank you for the work you continue to do to support student learning.

 

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