Virtual learning will never take the place of in-person instruction, but if we face more COVID-19 closures or another emergency that forces schools to close, these best practices can make remote teaching as effective as possible.
Create small groups
Scheduling small groups is an excellent way to get to know your students. You can set up these sessions for reading or math, but they don’t even need to be focused on academics. Try talking about the best part of each student’s week, or the worst. Let the students vent their frustrations about school and share their hopes for the rest of the year. By allowing them to express their thoughts and feelings, you build trust and mutual respect. Students who feel respected and heard are more likely to stay focused.
Use choice boards
The last thing students want to do is watch an endless stream of videos. The choice board is a more successful tool to keep them engaged in small groups.
Choice boards offer students different activities in each square of the grid to learn about a single concept. If they’re learning about history, for example, they could watch a short documentary, read a text, create a timeline, or write a poem or play about a time period or event. Choice boards help students stay motivated, because the students select their preferred learning path.
Set goals together
Students always need encouragement, but they need it even more during online learning. Helping your students set goals will go a long way toward keeping everyone on track. If they record their learning goals, track and reflect on their progress to keep them motivated to learn more.
Review and renew class norms
A “classroom contract” is a set of norms and rules created collaboratively and agreed upon by everyone in the class, including consequences for not following the rules and norms. You may need to update the contract periodically to reflect unique situations that arise, but it can be a good reminder for everyone when there are disruptions.
You and your students all need to get up and out of your chairs to blow off steam. Hold a 60-second dance break or a “freestyle exercise” break, when everyone chooses what they want to do: Jog in place, do jumping jacks, stretch, whatever gets them moving. Let students vote on the song or choose different songs during dance breaks throughout the week. Most important, have fun!