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Foundations for Successful Remote Teaching

May 11, 2020 - 4 minute read

Writing Sticky Notes

In this current global crisis, teachers all over the world are finding themselves tossed into the new arena of virtual learning. We know that our students are part of this mix, too. However, we would like to focus on the impact that this new shift is having on teachers. Educators of all ages and backgrounds are having to face a new challenge as they make computers the center of the learning environment.

We all know that as teachers, it takes time to set up a classroom. A real classroom, with four walls, has to be decorated, designed and curated. The floor plan needs to fit the desired flow of the room and the tasks involved in day-to-day activities. As teachers pivot to move their classroom to the cloud, those rituals and routines need to shift as well. Transitioning from a brick and mortar setting to an abstract online environment takes creativity and courage.

What skills do teachers need to have in order to teach online?

The basic work that a teacher must master in order to move to a cloud-based classroom falls into 5 categories. As we see it these are the foundational pieces needed to adjust to distance learning. Each of these components require a skill set that folds into the next. These categories are not fixed sequentially but are cycular in nature. Consider these the “must haves” so a teacher “can do” in this alternative and innovative method of teaching.

Master Your Inbox. Making peace with the constant stream of emails is important. As we reside to communicate electronically, we find that our inbox is quickly filled with daily messages from school district officials, colleagues, parents, and companies trying to rally for our attention. Add students to the equation and you can become overwhelmed quickly. Many email providers allow for settings to be adjusted and organized based on layout. Teachers should make use of these features so that they can prioritize the most important emails, filter the ones that can be read later, and delete those that don’t need to be opened.

Calendar Like A Secretary. Now that distance learning has become the norm, we need to create a new routine for ourselves. Using a calendar to list a time frame for daily tasks is very important. We need to be accountable to someone, even if it is our virtual assistant. In our classrooms we stress the importance of brain breaks for healthy learning. This same practice must be integrated into our home-based schedules. Maintaining a virtual calendar helps to create boundaries between your personal and professional responsibilities.

Become a Video Wizard. As we accept our new style of teaching it is important to take advantage of the possibilities that accompany it. Video instruction exponentially expands our opportunity to connect with our students. Teachers are now experimenting with YouTube, Zoom, Google Meet and other video platforms like never before. Warm-ups, re-teaching, and enrichment activities are ways in which teachers can engage their students through a series of learning videos. The possibilities are endless!

Embrace the Cloud-Based Classroom. Let’s face it, in this digital age everyone is connected, like it or not. Teachers are now being asked to take control of the digital footprint they are leaving by connecting with their students online. This has become a teachable moment for all of us when it comes to digital citizenship and sharing information. Choosing a platform that respects privacy parameters is critical. The online platform should prioritize student safety. Common platforms like Google Classroom, Blackboard, and SMART Learning Suites offer this practicality and security.

Build Relationships. Teachers have always worn many hats including: classroom manager, counselor, coach, and cheerleader to name a few. As we work from home, separated physically, it is paramount that we remember to connect emotionally. Humans were made as social creatures, born to connect and bond. We believe that it is now more critical than ever to build meaningful relationships with those around us, especially our students. In serving and nurturing others, our own souls rejoice and are lifted.

During these unprecedented times of social distancing it is critical that educators embrace their novel positions as distance learning teachers and create engaging learning environments. We’re all in this together!

Olivia Wong draws from her diverse career in education when writing about her experiences in teaching and learning. With over 20 years in both public and private sectors, Olivia has experience in teaching at the elementary level, coaching new educators, leading professional development, providing instructional leadership and strategically implementing cutting edge technology. Olivia holds a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential with CLAD Emphasis and is currently finishing her Administrative Credential at Concordia University Irvine.

Dr. Tanya Tarbutton works as an Associate Professor of Education at Concordia University Irvine where she serves as the Director of the MAEd: Educational Administration program. In this capacity Professor Tarbutton evaluates and prepares administrative candidates for teaching and learning in the 21st Century. Before entering higher education, Dr. Tarbutton worked as a site-based school administrator, resource teacher and general education teacher. As an immigrant, she brings a unique perspective grounded in more than 20 years of career experience.

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