After New York City school buildings shut in mid-March, teachers quickly discovered that recreating their former classroom schedule and activities was not always practical. Remote learning has required us to reconceptualize our teaching practices to find new solutions to reach our students.
Teachers quickly faced new challenges: How do you engage students without in-person human interaction? How do you gauge how your students are doing and whether they need help?
Doing quick check-ins with students is a low-pressure way to get them to participate and tell you how they are doing. Check-ins give your students an opportunity to communicate their feelings about what is happening.
- How are you feeling today?
- Do you have anything to tell me? This can be about school or life.
- Were you able to find all of your work for today?
- Do you need any help getting started with your assignments?
- What questions do you have about your assignments?
Findley has a similar form to check in with the students as they finish their learning for the day.
Consider asking your students to keep a pandemic journal, not only to keep up their writing skills but to allow them to process their emotions and record their experiences at this remarkable moment in our lives. Writing can be done without web access.
Distance learning can soon become monotonous. Don’t be afraid to assign work that is both fun and educational such as virtual tours, interactive games and video-based lessons. It will pique your students’ interest and reduce the pressure.
The UFT, in collaboration with the UFT Teacher Center, has built a portal on its website where you will find a multitude of links to learning activities and lessons organized by grade level and subject area, materials for multilingual and special education students and online guides for CTE courses. You will also find tutorials on Google Classroom, online enrichment activities and tips for remote teaching.
In the wake of school closures across the country, many education companies are offering free access to their resources. See a running list compiled by a fellow teacher. A group of educators collaborated to create a document called “Teaching Online in a Pinch.” It includes tips for fostering effective online discussions, creating effective question prompts and creating assessments for online learning.
As you are mastering the art of remote teaching, remember to take care of yourself physically and mentally as best you can during this stressful time. To use the oxygen-mask metaphor we hear on airplanes, you have to make sure you are caring for yourself before you can adequately care for others.