Education is constantly evolving. As an educator, you must be prepared for change at any given time. 2020 was the year that will forever be remembered as a year of change. It was the first year students went to school from home and teachers taught from home. School buildings were closed but virtual classrooms were not. Students couldn’t touch their teachers but teachers were still able to touch their students’ hearts.
This happened through the use of technology and platforms that allowed teachers to connect with their class, build community with social emotional lessons and activities, motivate and reward them and implement various strategies to ensure students understood the subject matter. Despite these changes, educators have overcome adversity in many ways and students have still learned and shown growth.
Remote teaching gave us the opportunity to learn new strategies that are considered best practice for online instruction and face-to-face instruction. Here are a few strategies that were used for remote instruction that are valuable to bring into the brick and mortar classroom.
When remote instruction began, teachers had to learn how to manage their student’s verbal responses. There had to be an organized way to allow for students to interact. Teachers asked students to type their answers in the chat box, raise their digital hand, and select an emotion to respond to questions. This strategy is quite different from face-to-face instruction when teachers can simply point to acknowledge a raised hand.
In the live classroom, it is a good practice to continue organizing how students respond. Students are used to listening intently for the time they will be asked to respond and the manner in which they should respond. Teachers can take advantage of this by implementing a variety of ways students are to respond. Students would have to listen for their name and the type of response they should give.
For example, the teacher may want the student to respond by giving a specific signal, a real facial emoji, a verbal response, or a written response from their white board. This is sure to keep students engaged and eager to participate.
Lesson segmenting is a strategy that is used to make longer lessons shorter and focused on a specific objective or skill. It is based on student needs and abilities. During remote instruction, teachers had to make decisions about the length of their lessons and how they would chunk them to deliver the most meaningful components at the best time for their students.
This was beneficial for many students as they were not overwhelmed with heavy lessons. Students are more likely to comprehend and retain chunked information. This practice is beneficial in both remote and face-to-face settings.
Why didn’t we do this before? It makes so much sense. Most of the platforms and/or applications used to live stream instruction for our remote learners have the option of recording. The lessons can then be housed in a folder or in the application that is currently being used.
This strategy is valuable in a remote setting so that students who missed the lesson can return to the recording and view it at the time they are available. Also, if there was a misunderstanding or confusion about anything presented, students are able to replay the lesson to gain clarity. Lastly, parents can view the lessons to see the lesson delivery and become better equipped to help their child with assignments.
The reasons to carry recording lessons into face to face settings are the exact same for recording during remote learning. Making this a habit can increase proficiency, student engagement, and parental involvement.
Clear Directions and Immediate Feedback
Remote learning forced educators to think deeper than usual about lesson delivery. We had start from the drawing board and determine the best ways to ensure students were receiving the content effectively. The most difficult barrier was that teachers were not able to read the physical distress signs from students and respond as usual with the one on one reinforcement or review of skills and directions. To overcome this barrier, many teachers spent time providing very clear, specific directions with examples and gave immediate feedback during small group instruction and whenever else possible. Students thrive when they comprehend their assignments and have examples to refer to. They are able to work with more confidence and better produce strong products.
I believe this is a best practice and always will be. Regardless of the era we live in and the means by which we teach and learn, students will always benefit from having a strong grasp on the content they are taught and what they are assigned to do with that knowledge.
Online Platforms and Websites
Prior to COVID 19, educators had been working towards learning as much as they could about integrating technology into instruction meaningfully. Students were using technology in many aspects of their life and found it easy to use technology in school. Many platforms were becoming more widely used due to this shift. There were many districts that were one to one prior to the move to remote education. Things changed when integrating technology into instruction went from using it as the teacher felt comfortable to being mandatory due to the circumstances.
Using online resources and platforms effectively gives students 21st century skills that will help them be successful going forward. Teachers now have experience in doing this and should continue to use these things to challenge and elevate their students. Some thought that it was too soon for our younger scholars to manipulate a laptop computer. While I believe younger students should be limited to extended screen time, they have proven that they can be successful on screen and the skills they have learned helped them grow academically.
The Will to Never Give Up
When adversity arises, educators put on their armor and fight through it for the sake of the students in their care. We put ourselves on the back burner and make a way for our students to succeed. Remote instruction was hard in the beginning and it was scary. There was uncertainty and worry about the ability to reach our students. In some regards, we feel this way inside the physical classroom. That worry about reaching our students is real and we continuously work to erase that barrier.
The will to never give up is exemplified in our teachers and passed down to our students. This past year is an example for our students that life will throw you curve balls. There is no guarantee on what the next day or the next year holds. What we do know is that giving up is not an option.