As schools and entire states start to shut down, you may be called to teach remotely and take a what was previously a face-to-face class, online. While this can be stressful for both the student and the teacher, it can also be a fun adventure if you remember a few guidelines.
1. Remote Classes Are Not the Same as Online Classes
Weird, right? While it is a class that is online, it is not a traditional online class. Most teachers spend weeks, even months, planning, designing and developing an online course.
Remote classes, however, are developed as the teacher teaches the class, mainly because something has gotten in the way of face-to-face classes. While this is not the first time in history it has happened, this is the first time that it is happening to so many people at the same time. Remote teaching is offered in the place of physical classes because there is no other option at that moment. It is quick and happens as the course is being taught.
So do not worry if your course looks nothing like you picture an online class should look. It’s not supposed to because it’s not the same.
2. Pick One or Two Objectives and Ditch the Rest
You work so hard on your course so of course you don’t want to leave out the fun project you planned or the lessons you were going to teach. However, this may not be the best time for those parts of the curriculum.
Decide on what is the absolute most important part for your students to learn and concentrate on that. Review what they have already learned as well. You’ve probably already taught them many of the fundamentals that they need. Now is not the time for complex information.
Why you may ask? Well…
3. Know That Learning May Be Your Student’s Last Priority
Students may have to watch their younger siblings while Mom and Dad work. Children as young as 5 or 6 may have to help out with their little brothers and sisters. Older children or young adults may have shifts at grocery stores or fast food places to help bring money into the house, especially if their parent lost a job. The students may get sick or have to take care of a sick relative. Basically, their first job (learning) may now be the last thing on their mind…and that is okay. We all know how important education is, but their family may have to take priority.
4. Prevent Burnout!
Please take care of yourself! If you try to do everything you had planned in a face-to-face class remotely, you may just wipe yourself out before you even get started. Ditching those extraneous objectives just may save your sanity.
5. Use What Is Already Out There
There are a lot of resources that others have made that are scholarly, reliable, and fun. Publishers that your school uses may have released the ability to use online quizzes, assignments and study aides. Plus, there are many free tools to use to keep students engaged with the content.
- Flipgrid (https://info.flipgrid.com): Students and instructors can make videos and comment on them in a secure environment
- Quizlet (https://quizlet.com): Creates study aides for students to include flash cards and a really nifty meteor game
- Kahoot! (https://kahoot.com): Turns content into a game that students can play against others or themselves
- LinkedIn Learning IT (https://doit.txstate.edu/services/online-training): Has many courses to help increase skill sets in business, creativity, and software.
- Microsoft Bookings (https://www.linkedin.com/learning/microsoft-bookings-essential-training/welcome?u=51086649): Learn how to book time to talk to students through this app
6. The Internet May Not Be as Reliable as We Wish
Even if the Internet can handle the amount of use it is about to get, your student may not have access to it. Up to this point, if students did not have Internet access, they could still go to the school and use their resources, or go to a public library, coffeehouse, or pretty much anywhere that free Wi-Fi is available. Now all of those places are closed. Your students may not be able to get online. Or, if they can, they may be competing with their parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. to use the home Internet and computers.
7. Zoom May Also Not Be as Reliable as We Hope
Zoom is a fantastic conference tool with both video and audio capabilities and a nifty virtual whiteboard. However, universities, corporations, small businesses, K-12 schools and even preschools are using Zoom for remote meetings. This could take its toll. While you should try to incorporate the use of it, make sure to have a backup plan as well.
8. Virtual Office Hours are Your Friend
Your students need to know that you are still there. You can destress them. Set up virtual office hours so they can get ahold of you, i.e. MWF 2pm – 4pm or by appointment if those times do not work. Make sure you have set hours though, otherwise you could be answering questions and having meetings at all times of the day. And while I know that you want to be there for your students, remember guideline number 4: Prevent your own Burnout!
9. Keep a Routine
If you usually wake up at 5 am to exercise, eat at 6:30am and are out the door by 7:00am, then keep with a similar schedule. It will give you a sense of normalcy and frankly we can all use that where we can get it! Plus, remote teaching will not last forever and you will eventually go back to your old hours. It will most likely be easier if you never really left them.
10. Set Expectations for Students
Yes, students and teachers are facing an unprecedented time in? education. However, that does not mean you should let the students run wild. Set expectations for them. If you expect them to finish an assignment, let them know that. However, make sure to give them extra time to complete it. If you want them to contact you in some manner weekly, make sure they know that as well. You are still in control of your class, you just have a few (okay, many) obstacles to deal with.
Life is stressful enough. Do not try to make your course an “online” course in the traditional sense. You are working hard so your students do not lose out on an educational opportunity (regardless of the size of the opportunity). Even in a difficult time, it can be a learning adventure for both you and your students if you take a moment to breath and realize that we will all get through this together.