Online education went from being fairly marginalized to being enforced and possibly the new normal at some point in time overnight. Many teachers had a different idea of what it meant to actually teach, and some could have difficulty adapting to this new reality.
They, unfortunately, don’t have a choice if they want to be able to survive. Not only that, but this could become a major focus of teacher education from now on, with new teachers learning how to use new tools and techniques naturally.
School leaders also have the responsibility of making the proper resources and tools available for their staff to perform better. Let’s take a look at what teachers can do to help the transition easier for teachers and their students.
In a traditional classroom setting, new concepts are first introduced to the class, usually then followed by a barrage of questions. The teacher can answer questions fluidly and other students can pick up on what they need. They might also be able to communicate with other students if they have something that they don’t fully understand.
With online learning, however, communications are made harder since not everyone is in the same room. That ultimately means that you’ll need to simplify things to keep everyone on board.
You have to remember that students will need to do most of the work themselves, so you need to give them a set of resources they’ll always have access to, like transcripts of your lectures. Also, the teaching experience has to be crafted in a way that facilitates self-direction.
During sessions, you should never be using more than two resources at a time. You will need to find a way to be leaner in your communications and how you deliver information if you want to keep everyone on board, not only students who work well in this format.
Teachers and students should have a portal where they can get the information they need when they need it. There are various tools out there that you can use, but many focus on the online aspect only and aren’t as extensive.
Tools like this digital classroom management tool are much more complete. Classroom. the cloud allows teachers and students to stay connected with students at all times, no matter what platform they’re using.
The best part about this digital classroom management solution is that it allows teachers to have much more control over what students do by being able to monitor their activity and restrict it.
The tool also integrates with Google Classroom, which means that you won’t have to change your current setup, but will be able to jump from one setting to the other much more easily.
Using a tool that will allow teachers to move from classroom to online classes will be important for adaptability and could be used indefinitely, so that would be a better option for the short and long term.
Another thing you have to do is give self-motivated students a chance to study on their own and progress at their own rate. One of the beauties of online learning is that it allows for more flexibility.
While you can give regular classes, you could give special assignments for students who seem to be progressing faster, and even extra work if they’re open to it.
This could be exactly what they need to stay interested, and will also allow you to focus more on those who seem to be falling behind. Again, this is where a versatile online class management tool will come in handy.
You want to focus more on giving student-driven assignments for several reasons. For one, this will allow students to stay engaged and get them off their computers. Also, this will give you time to plan future units.
You want to give long projects with a clear set of deadlines that students have to meet. This will give them both autonomy and a clear structure. You could also encourage dialogue with parents and add an element of student choice to push engagement even further.
No matter what you do to make the experience as natural as possible, your students will miss the little interactions they have with the teaching staff and other students. Crossing students in the hallway or during breaks is what makes the school experience complete with many students, and where they get to share some actual concerns.
This is why you have to find a way to keep that connection alive, and there are plenty of ways that it can be done. You can do it through email, or video calls, or you could add an annotation to a shared document. A good management tool will also make it simple to interact with specific students, groups, or classes.
The worst thing you could do at the moment is starting to relax the structure. A good, solid structure is now more important than ever as students will have much more freedom to roam. The structure will also be essential for keeping them engaged.
You also can’t afford to bend to the whim of every student and accept that some will fall behind no matter what. It’s not always about the structure, and you have to understand that no level of adaptation will be able to work in some cases.
Students, especially younger ones, will also need a structure to feel secure. This is why you need to have a clear outline of when and how they can contact you, which methods have to be used.
And how fast they can expect to get a response. They also have to know where to submit assignments, alternative options, and what they should do if they have trouble with any of the technology used.
Expectations for assignments should also be clearly outlined. You need to have clear product descriptors and rubrics. You need clear participation expectations, and these need to include the exact duration and frequency of participation along with the format.
You also need clear deadlines/timelines on revisions, assignments, communication, participation, and extensions. However, you should also know that you can’t be too rigid when establishing this structure.
Students will need some time to adapt to the self-direction aspect, some more than others. So, you might have to waive a few deadlines at the beginning and be more lenient.
You also have to understand technical difficulties and misunderstandings, and sometimes allow for additional revisions. As they get comfortable, you can start tightening up guidelines, but still account for the level of progress students are making individually.
One of the most important traits teachers will need to develop at this point is empathy. You cannot expect students to progress at the rate that you wish or expect. Some otherwise great students may start to underperform, while others might flourish in this type of environment. Then you have students who were already having difficulties who will find things even more difficult.
You also have to keep each student’s situation and environment into consideration. While some will be in a perfect space to learn and progress, others might not have that kind of safety and comfort, so this is something you’ll have to consider as well.
We would be lying if we told you that transitioning from a classroom to an online format will be easy, but it can be done. This is why school leaders have to focus on their students first and foremost and use all the tools necessary to give a chance to those who are the most vulnerable.