So much has changed in the past few months. We’ve gone from teaching classrooms full of students to leading Zoom lessons while sheltering in place. Distance learning and virtual education have become the new normal. It’s actually stunning when you think about it. We teachers have managed to maintain our students’ education despite everything COVID-19 has thrown at us. More than anything, we should feel proud of that accomplishment.
Still, the transition hasn’t been easy. Many of us are learning the ins and outs of virtual education while trying to balance normal lessons and student well-being. Teacher burnout is becoming a real problem. Thankfully, we don’t have to tackle this challenge alone. Across the country teachers are reaching out to help one another with smart, innovate ways for crushing virtual school. Here are just a few tips and tricks you can implement to master the art of virtual schooling!
Tips and Tricks for Crushing Virtual School
Sticky Note to Self: Many teachers are doing more work now than they ever have before. Remote teaching has opened a world of new challenges and possibilities. The result is that it’s easy to get lost, overwhelmed, or disorganized in all the chaos. Thankfully, a simple sticky note can help you clear your thoughts and chart a course for the week. Simply end your day by writing three things you want to accomplish tomorrow on a sticky note.
Schedule Time for Email: This new world of distance learning means a new emphasis on email, and unfortunately students don’t always have the best sense of timing. Let’s face it, many of them are full-on nocturnal. Assignments and requests can come pouring in at all hours of the night. As teachers, it’s important that we give ourselves some breathing room. Respond to emails on your schedule, not your students!
Use that Chat Box: Video conferencing has become the new normal. Navigating a lesson by Zoom can be tricky and important questions often get swept away in the stream. That’s why it’s a good idea to take advantage of the chat box whenever possible. This feature can be used to share questions or pass on specific content to your students. Its utility can be limited, but the benefits (however small) are worth exploring.
Video Feedback: Giving students feedback is a vital part of the learning process, and that still applies to virtual classrooms. Consider using tools like Flipgrid or Screencastify to give your students quick, decisive feedback. Not only will this help you save time, but it will remind your students that you are still invested in their education.
Interact in 10: It’s difficult to keep students interacting in a remote environment. Still, there need to be moments where they can connect with the material and each other. Rather than spend the entire lesson on a video lecture, find ways for students to interact every 10 minutes. Introducing polls, surveys, or chat options is a great way to keep them engaged.
Add Personal Connection: Let’s not forget to add a little levity to our lessons. Our students are worthy of creative and critical thought and they deserve to know it too. The approach can be as simple as a “Which Dog Are Your Today?” quiz or a “Wrong Answers Only” acronym challenge. You could even poll your students for ideas. In these stressful times, we should be helping students smile as well as learn.
Twitter Chats: You’ve probably already heard this, but we’re in this together. It’s no empty platitude either. Teachers everywhere are working to help one another shoulder the burdens of remote teaching. One way is through twitter chats. By joining these chats, you can ask questions and meet like-minded educators who are more than happy to share resources.
Virtual Projects: With extended school cancellations across our country, students are searching for exciting learning experiences to challenge their critical thinking skills. Lessons such as Blue Apple’s virtual Prevent the Spread are an ideal answer to this need. Not only does the unit lead your students remotely in understanding how germs spread, but it also empowers them to make a difference by creating their own public service announcements. Best of all, it’s completely free!