Teachers and instructional coaches have faced many challenges in shifting to distance and hybrid learning since the Spring of 2020. In order to not only meet but overcome these challenges, we’ve put together these 7 lessons so that your students can continue to have access to high quality instruction and feel supported in their learning.
Lesson 1: There is no ‘One Size Fits All’
Students’ needs are going to be difficult to meet if we think only of the collective and as such use one way of teaching. ASSISTments helps teachers by adapting to your teaching style and giving students the individualized attention that they need to be successful. One of the many features that can assist here is Skill Builders.
Lesson 2: The Classroom Experience is imperative to educating the whole child
One of the major impediments to distance learning is a disengaged student. Signs of this can be seen via turned off cameras, lack of participation (speaking up or typing in the chat), and most glaringly, via incomplete assignments. This led math teacher DonnaLee Tignor to reflect on what was missing in a virtual environment that worked in the classroom before the pandemic. She speculated that the answer was stability and responded by creating the Breakout Room in a Box which you can find in our Teacher Artifacts page.
Breakout Room in a Box helps to make students more accountable. It acknowledges that there has been a shift in how learning is currently done but makes that the advantage; mirroring virtually the way teachers facilitate small groups in the classroom, allowing you to be in more than one place at the same time. For a more detailed explanation of how to best utilize this resource read DonnaLee’s Blog ‘The Breakout Room in a Box Strategy’.
Lesson 3: This is not the time to ‘Go Easy’ on your students
According to ‘The Impact Of Covid-19 On Higher Education Around The World’ from the IAU Global Survey Report, “The risk that the COVID-19 crisis will exacerbate already existing inequalities is something that the global higher education community has to address…” Students who were already behind will not benefit from an educator who knows the pandemic has been a major disruption and decides to go easy on the class. On the contrary, students need more support as they grapple with the struggles of getting to the next step/next grade. What classrooms across the world will look like in the future (and more immediately) the Fall of 2021, depends heavily on what happens in the classroom now. Rich and complex assignments will only benefit student growth.
Lesson 4: Community Matters
For students learning from home they are essentially living in their schools. Their interactions with the outside world, apart from members of their household, may solely be composed of digital faces as mandated/regulated by their teachers. In the webinar, Teaching During COVID -Lessons from the Fall from ASSISTments Teachers; DonnaLee emphasizes building community by placing students in groups that don’t change often in order to create a sense of stability.
Lesson 5: The Classroom is a Runway, You are the Model, and Your Students are the Buyers
Think of your classroom as a runway show. You have this amazing collection of lessons you’ve crafted and modified to fit your students. But will they buy it without seeing the model in it? If your students (the buyers) don’t see your lesson modeled by you they won’t buy into it. Try featuring mini versions of assignments during your assignment time. This will allow students to “try on” the lesson and you both can see what fits or what needs to be tailored to help them do and feel their best.
Lesson 6: The answers are in the data
Middle school Math teacher Ajoke Bevans credits the ASSISTments Assignment Report for making talks with students, parents, tutors, and her schools’ administrators a breeze. When a student says “I tried but I don’t know how to do this,” say, “let’s look at the data?” When a parent emails: “I’m getting my child a tutor. What should they focus on?” say, “let’s look at the data?” When the administration asks “How’s your class doing?” Say, “let’s look at the data?” Make “let’s look at the data” a part of your everyday conversations. For more information on the Assignment Report look here
Lesson 7: Prioritize your time
If students are living at school then teachers are living at work. Working 24/7 will lead to burnout, frustration, and most importantly you won’t be at your best. Your students can tell if you’re having a good day or a bad one (and you both deserve to experience more good days than bad). Build in review time once a week to go over sticking points in your lessons so neither of you feel overwhelmed during the school year. Have designated virtual office hours so that you can give students the extra attention they need in a schedule that works for you too. Be sure to also take care of your mental and physical well-being in whichever way suits you best because your students, family & friends, and most importantly YOU deserve it.