Remote learning - Some quick tips for teachers, parents and students

April 07, 2020

In these challenging times, education has had to adapt dramatically to ensure our future generations are still getting the high-quality education they deserve. The even greater challenge is that there isn’t one single approach that all schools can and will use to navigate this new space of remote learning. The challenges that face educators at this point are clarity, equity and uncertainty.

First off, clarity is a massive hurdle as of now because every district and school around the globe will interpret and implement a different strategy for remote learning – in fact, some clarity has already been established with the initial vocabulary change, which was dubbed ‘online learning’ in the early stages. You may infer how this alludes to equity already, the first question that comes to mind is, ‘what about families who don’t have access to digital technologies or internet?’ We’ve already noticed an equity barrier that helped us change directions to accommodate all learners.

To be clear, most schools have little clarity on what their roles will look like when remote learning begins, so I implore you, as any stakeholder in education, to show some patience with remote learning as everyone is in an ‘adapt-as-we-go’ mentality. What’s more, is that parents and kids will have little clarity as to what their days might look like at home, and if kids are at different schools, how will they be able to keep up with the multitude of different approaches? (New systems are already emerging to combat this - 1classroom.online is a great example)

Here are some suggestions for each stakeholder in education about how to approach this new age in education during these challenging times.

Teachers

From an educator’s point of view, the tools used will look different from school to school and department to department – however, here are some tips that you can use to help get you started.

Keep it simple, at least to start

Use platforms and pedagogy you already know and use. For example, implementing brand new digital platforms without professional development and explicit teaching will only make things more difficult down the line. If your school uses Google Suite for Education, use that. If you’re school already uses Microsoft, stick to that. If you’re school is using Dogeared, definitely use that.

Don’t have an online presence? Stick to the basics

Set up a plan to post assignments and resources to parents. It may not be the flashiest way, but it will get the job done. During this time, teachers should begin to consider options that may enhance the learning experience by reading case studies about other schools’ methods for remote learning.

Don’t get overwhelmed

The education community banded together during the early stages and have been on a share-barrage of every single resource in their inventories. This is fantastic, but also incredibly overwhelming. Use what you’re ultra-confident in to start, then maybe start exploring new avenues once you get a feel for the landscape.

Use this time to seek professional development.

If you’re not a ‘techy’ person, this could be your time to start learning about what might work for you when you get back to ‘normal’.

Be patient, we don’t expect kids to know everything after the first lesson – neither will we. Learn as we go.

Parents

Create a routine for kids that works for your household

This can look very different in every household – but only you know what your kids have access to and what your work schedule will be like. Consider this: your workload, devices available, bandwidth available, what tasks are independent and what tasks need your support, and very importantly, break time for you and the kids.

Model independence, patience and work ethic

This is really your time to show your kids what hard work looks like, how you act in Zoom meetings, how you speak to others, how you manage your time will model how your child will respond to their workload as well. As teachers, we are very cognisant of how our behaviours are observed by students and, in turn, are viewed as the expectation – ensure you are setting expectations with your actions.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

Educators don’t expect kids to know Einstein’s theory of relativity in one session, it takes time, reinforcement, accommodation, differentiation…I’ll stop there. What I mean is, learning takes time and teachers are experts in their crafts – don’t be too hard on yourself if your child just ‘doesn’t get it’. Communicate with your teacher about ways to support your child.

Keep watching Youtube ! :)

YouTube is great for lessons and explanation videos – check out Khan Academy or Maths Antics to start. They have some awesome videos that explain concepts in simple and concise ways. Just remember, teachers always watch the videos before they show them (just in case) so you may want to do a quick view before you give it to your kid.

Be patient with yourself, your kids and your school – remember, this is new to everyone.

Students

Build Trust

Work on your ability to be independent, show that you can be trusted to complete tasks on your own. Building this trust will help you later!

Teach your family

When you get tasks, show your family what you’re learning and how to do it – I am sure you will impress them!

Help your siblings

Stick together and help each other, especially if you’re the older sibling. You probably know how to do lattice multiplication or make inferences or write a thesis statement better than your parents do! Be a helping hand.

Be Patient! (Yes Again!)

Everyone is trying their best to make sure you are getting the education you deserve, sometimes even adults need to learn, are unsure and are confused. Try your best to help where you can and give everyone time to figure things out.

I hope this helps you as we all embark on this new journey. Finally, I’d like to add, see this as an exciting opportunity to try something different. Learn new pedagogies and methodologies as a teacher, learn about what your kids learn about as a parents and try to enjoy the time learning together – and finally, as a child, build your independent and become a leader in learning within your household.

Stay safe everyone.