If you had told me 26 years ago when I first started teaching that I would be teaching my students from home one day, I would have laughed in disbelief. It’s not something I ever thought would be a reality. But sadly, it is now a reality that nobody was ready for or anticipating.
Distance Learning with Little to No Prep
As an educator, I have been on the other end of distance learning. I have taken courses online and have gotten my master’s degrees online – but that is nothing compared to having to teach first graders online. It is not only heartbreaking but challenging.
Still, teachers must adapt to this new reality to continue helping their students strive to become their best. Based on my own experience so far, I wanted to share some of my teacher tips for distance learning and the challenges I’m facing. Together, we can help find ways to make the most of these demanding times and make sure both kids and teachers are ready for whatever comes next.
Distance Learning – Navigating a New Way to Teach
First, was I prepared for distance learning? No! This was something that was decided upon at the last minute. One day we were told to create a packet for a possible closure in the near future and then – not even five hours later after we were home – we were told that all schools would be closing for an indefinite amount of time.
So here I am at home with no materials – just my computer and all that is on it. We were given only 30 minutes to go into our rooms and get whatever personal items we needed. Thirty minutes! That is not a lot of time considering that also included the amount of time it took you to go to your room and back to sign out.
Now, I’m trying to plan lessons based on what we have already learned and for an audience of an unknown amount of students. I do not know if they will all even see what I am doing. My students may have access but that does not mean they will have the opportunity to complete the activities. Their home lives will interfere with this on a daily basis.
Distance Learning – One Teacher’s Approach
There are two main challenges I am facing. One is the lack of materials to use to teach my kids from home. The other is the uncertainty of what is to come. Despite this, I am forging ahead as we also must. Hopefully, from my own account, fellow educators can find a few online classroom teaching tips that may be useful for their virtual lessons.
Right now, I am creating videos for each part of my day. To start this journey, I am focusing on ELA and Math. I am reading to my students daily. I am trying to provide them with as much routine and normalcy as possible. I am doing this using my scheduling whiteboard that hangs in my office as well as a small variety of children’s literature that I have at home. I am cutting and pasting worksheets into PowerPoints and posting these through videos and photographs so my kids can see them and then complete their work on separate pieces of paper at home.
All of this is being accomplished through the ClassDojo communication program. Some of my students are responding through pictures and videos. I am able to communicate with them through the message area. My lessons and story times are being recorded through the record feature in Class Story. The students also have portfolios, through which I assign activities. Some students put their responses into their portfolios.
Teachers, tell us what challenges you’re facing
What challenges are you facing with distance learning? What are some of the best links and resources you have used in prepping virtual lessons? What else are you doing that might be helpful to other teachers?
Really Good Stuff has free remote learning resources for making teaching and learning at home easier. We also offer advice on planning lessons and more from real teachers on our blog.
Read more teacher tips for distance learning:
- Teacher Tips for Distance Learning: Week 1
- Teacher Tips for Distance Learning: Week 2
- Teacher Tips for Distance Learning: Week 3
By Cindy Price
Cindy Price is a veteran teacher of 26 years. She has taught kindergarten for 19 years and first grade for seven years. She was born and raised in Massachusetts, but has taught in Florida, Georgia, and now Delaware.