The coronavirus pandemic has caused the closure of most U.S. schools, forcing teachers to find ways to create virtual learning experiences for their students.
Replacing face-to-face classroom interaction with online technology is unfamiliar territory for most educators. Fortunately, the education community has mobilized to share ideas, strategies and resources on remote teaching, online learning and more.
Here, we will take a closer look at some of the most helpful resources out there and offer a few tips for adapting to the online teaching “learning curve.”
Tips for Online Teaching
The transition from a traditional classroom to a virtual one is extremely challenging. Let’s start with a few remote teaching tips and ideas.
- Be in charge as you work together: “I am the director of this movie, but we are all in this together,” says math professor Leonardo Rolla in “Five tips for moving teaching online as COVID-19 takes hold” | Nature.com. Additional tips from this article and others include:
- Look for ways to engage students: Go around “the classroom” and ask students specific questions about the material; connect their answers to a question for the next student.
- Strategically streamline your goals: Identify and focus on a few specific things that you want students to learn.
- Check in on how your students are feeling: Students may be experiencing fear, anxiety and information overload that can affect their ability to learn.
- Create space for fun: Bonus point for finding ways to add laughter to your lessons.
- Give up on having students’ undivided attention: But that doesn’t mean you can’t “call on” a student who doesn’t appear to be engaged.
- Make your virtual classroom distraction-free: Noise and movement affect students’ ability to focus.
- Identify and support struggling students: Students may struggle technologically as well as academically. It’s also important to understand that not everyone has equal access to technology.
- Don’t rely entirely on live video: You can’t guarantee the quality of your feed.
- Use “asynchronous communication” tools: Online bulletin boards, chat channels and discussion groups can be used to keep students learning outside your virtual classroom time.
- Invest in a decent headset: One that also has a microphone will enable you to more clearly hear and respond to your students.
- Take care of yourself: The stress can be overwhelming, so it’s important to be aware, know your limits, reach out for a calming conversation or connect with specific resources (see Emotional Support Resources for Teachers below).
Find more remote teaching suggestions here: “14 Simple Tips for Better Online Teaching”
Sharing Ideas About Remote Teaching [Online Education Resources]
EdReports.org, a nonprofit devoted to improving K-12 education, is one of many organizations inviting teachers and educational experts to share ideas, anecdotes, challenges and inspiration. An EdReports article titled “Educator Reviewers Share Tips and Best Practices for Virtual Learning” frames the shared challenge and offers ideas and tools, often in the voices of teachers who are using them.
Remote Teaching Technology [Tools & Platforms]
Some of the remote teaching resources discussed in EdReports and elsewhere include:
- Google Classroom and Google Meet
- Microsoft Teams – Build collaborative classrooms, connect with colleagues
- Flipgrid – Engage and empower student voices by creating sharing short videos
- Blackboard– Resources and tools to support quality teaching and learning online
- ClassDojo– Connects teachers, students, parents in classroom communities
- Edmodo– Tools and resources to manage classrooms and engage students remotely
- Moodle– Community-driven, globally supported open learning platform
- Seesaw– Resources to support effective remote learning experiences for students, teachers and families
- GoGuardian – A K-12’s leading classroom management software that helps teachers eliminate distractions, connect with students, and save time
- Slack – The popular messaging tool is widely used to facilitate communication between students and teachers
Zoom Classroom ‘Playbook’
Like countless other people who are now working remotely, many teachers are using the videoconferencing platform Zoom. Get teacher-to-teacher advice on “Creating Your Online Classroom Environment” with Zoom in this online Zoom Education “Playbook.”
Educators using online learning sites must be mindful of taking security precautions to safeguard their virtual classrooms. WeLiveSecurity.com shares helpful information on how to “be aware of the security risks of videoconferencing and how to easily overcome them.”
Tips for Online Lesson Planning
The Journal, an online education website focused on technology, offers helpful information about a broad spectrum of tools for online lesson planning and teaching. Their list also features comments and feedback from educators: Free Resources for Schools During COVID-19 Outbreak.
Another thoughtful collection of online learning resources comes from WeAreTeachers.com, which offers recommendations by grade level: 200+ Amazing Online Learning Resources.
How to Talk to Students About COVID-19
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) offers tips for having age-appropriate discussions on this important topic to reassure and protect children:
- How teachers can talk to children about coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- How parents can talk to your child about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Emotional Support Resources for Teachers
Self-care is an essential piece of being able to provide educational and emotional support for students. “During this time, it’s also critical for us — as school leaders, educators and parents — to focus on our own social-emotional wellbeing as we look to support the social-emotional development of our students at home,” says Panorama Education in the introduction to a page offering a detailed listing of Self-Care Resources for Educators, Schools and Parents Related to COVID-19.
Online Teaching & Learning Resources from Leading Education Websites
- How to Be a Better Online Teacher | Chronicle of Higher Education (Learn useful insights like how to “Put Yourself in [Your Students’] Shoes” and “Make Class an Inviting, Pleasant Place to Be”)
- Resources for Teaching Online Due to School Closures | EduBlogger.com (Find detailed tips on “Setting Up a Virtual Home Base or Online Platform” and “Using Videos and Conferencing in Online Learning” – updated daily)
- Navigating Uncertain Times: How Schools Can Cope With Coronavirus | EdSurge.com (Find helpful “Tips and How To’s on Making the Move to Remote Learning)
- Schools and Coronavirus: What You Should Know | National Education Assoc. (The latest news from the NEA and a video pep talk from NEA President Lily Eskelsen García)
- School Closure Resource Hub | TranscendEducation.org (well over 100 links to valuable resources for school leaders and teachers and parents related to school system action plans, distance learning, technology tools, virtual teaching strategies, homeschool design, mental health and well-being)
Additional Coronavirus-Related Education Information
- Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Distance Learning Solutions & Resources | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- Coronavirus Resources: Teaching, Learning and Thinking Critically | The New York Times (features include Lesson of the Day and Coronavirus Resource Page for Students)
The University of San Diego and its online Master of Education degree program is committed to helping teachers and administrators find the support you need during the coronavirus crisis.