5 Tips for Distance Learning Success
Updated: Jun 9
Our classroom is now remote. It’s new, it’s strange, and it’s hard as all change is! But, there are a few simple tricks that will make distance learning a bit easier to manage for both teachers and students.
I spent some time (like 2 months, the schedule didn’t work for me) teaching with VIPKid. That experience meshed with my classroom experience has given me a few tricks for distance learning. Here they are:
This may seem obvious, but it’s a reminder we all need. In the classroom, we set a consistent set of routines and stick to them. Once our students learn those routines, there’s a better chance of the day running smoothly. Also, it’s not until those routines are in place that we can expect our students to learn much in a day. How long does it take at the beginning of the year to teach routines? It’s going to take some time for students to learn the routines of distance learning as well.
Make sure to choose and set a few daily or weekly routines that students can expect, and therefore get good at. For my students, a blending sounds activity that mimics what we’ve done in the classroom will be a weekly expectation.
Blending Sounds Into Syllables
Student Response: Real vs. Nonsense
Another easy idea that adds consistency is to ask a daily question in Google Classroom to your students. This can double as “attendance” and gives you a chance to check in on what your students are doing and how they’re feeling. It also gives students a chance to see what they’re classmates are up to. A virtual morning meeting of sorts.
Choose one or two simple and consistent activities your students can come to expect.
Distance is new for everyone, so as your students are learning to do school online, consider taking the academic expectations down a notch. Let students work on the “how” of learning online, which is taking a ton of brain power for them as well as for teachers, and then start to increase the academic rigor students still need in order to grow their knowledge.
Watch your Back
Literally, consider what’s happening behind you if you’re choosing to record any video for students to watch. If there’s a lot of “busy” going on in the background, students are going to be distracted. Rather, they’ll be more distracted. We can’t control the environment that our students are currently learning in. What we can control is the environment we’re providing as we teach remotely.
This is where I’m sitting currently, an excellent NON example for video lessons. I’m sure there aren’t boxes and construction materials or a toddler toilet in your background, but just be aware of what’s behind you. Two seconds after this photo, the cat had her leg up in the air and she was licking her personal areas….talk about awkward distraction if I were in the middle of recording a lesson!
So, if you’re going to record a lesson or instructions (which I highly suggest doing – students need to SEE YOU!) try to minimize the stuff behind you. A blank wall would be best so there’s NOTHING to look at. Avoid windows. Make sure there’s not a TV behind you. If you have pets and or kids around, back yourself up to the wall. If there’s any chance someone could be moving around behind you, move to avoid it. Blank (or educational, but who has time for that set-up?) is best!
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
Again, if you’re doing any type of recording, there are considerations to be made. I’ve mentioned the background of the video, and the next thing to think through is the lighting. You need to be seen clearly, which means you need to make sure you’re near a lot of light!
Add a lamp or two, sit near a window (but make sure it isn’t in the background of the video), turn on all the room’s lights.
TEST IT OUT! Depending on your room, you may need to move the lamps or your video set-up around a bit. While you want bright light, you DO NOT want a glare. Add the lights, turn on the camera, and adjust as necessary.
Be a Cheerleader
This is the most uncomfortable part of distance learning for some people. With the internet acting as a buffer between you and your students, there will be an extra need for animation, cheeriness, and friendliness. Add some extra encouragement and positive reinforcement in ALL forms of communication.
If you’re doing a video or voice recording, add some extra cheer and pep in your voice and facial expressions. Especially with video, use gestures that ADD TO your instruction. Act out simple directions such as write, type, listen, etc.
Repeat important and simple instructions and teaching points more than you think necessary. Cheerleaders typically aim for at least 3 times through a chant (I know, I was one!) and as teacher-cheerleaders you should aim to do the same!
Distance Learning Tips
Adjust Expectation, Allow Time for Change
Avoid Distraction in Video Recordings
Light up Your Online Space
Increase Your Peppiness – Be a Cheerleader
Any other helpful tips? Comment with your genius below.
For FREE resources for distance learning, head my Distance Learning page, where I’ll be sharing all the resources I create and use with my own students. The links will be FREE. Also, through March (at least) my TPT store is completely FREE in case any of it can be used to help make this adjustment easier.