Top Tips for Remote Learning
The learning environment as we know it, has reformed dramatically in such a short space of time.
Remote Learning has vastly become the buzzword of education, a term that I feel is best likened to Marmite - teachers either love it or hate it!
Regardless of one’s outlook; Our resilience as educators, as well as our ability to adapt to the uncertainty that precedes the educational climate, is further testament to our passion as educators to provide the very best for our students. In spite of the challenges and frustrations that came with the sudden shift to online teaching, let me take this opportunity to remind you all that you are doing great!
Now that we are entering the one-year anniversary of ‘Lockdown One’, I’ve put together a range of tips to get you through this term whilst we continue to anxiously await our return to the interactive classroom environment that we all miss so dearly.
1. Set realistic expectations for how often you will check work
Remember that you are a human being first and foremost! Whilst we all understand and appreciate the importance of giving feedback (in a timely manner!), we must also keep in mind the restraints that come with working from behind a computer screen - as well as the added workload that it brings. We are much used to navigating our way around our classrooms, and providing students with instant feedback; helicopter-marking style.
With that being said, in our current climate the phrase ‘work smarter not harder’ now comes to mind.
I have recently become an avid user of Spiral.ac, which has personally been a game changer for me and my marking. It allows you to pose questions to students and then instantly mark responses once they have been collated (see pictured). Over time, once you have marked some responses, as either being correct or requiring further improvement, the algorithm picks up on what constitutes a correct answer, and begins to mark similar student responses for you!
Another gamechanger for those who use Google Classroom, is Just Mote. A chrome extension that allows you to record voice notes that can be used as feedback for assignments. I can testify to this being three times faster than typing feedback, and students really appreciate the personal touch that comes with hearing their teacher’s voice!
Whichever way you choose to feedback to students, it is important to be mindful of your time and wellbeing. Remember - there are only 24 hours in a day! Be selective with the class assignments that you choose to mark. This will be in your best interest to ensure that you avoid burnout, and also act as a means to preserve your own sanity.
2. Continue to be flexible, compassionate and understanding
The home lives of both our colleagues and students are forever changing, and we must keep in mind that some are battling challenges that we may not even be aware of.
Home fires, bereavement and poor mental health are just few of the challenges that have been bought to my attention as a Year 13 Pastoral Leader in the past week alone. We have a moral duty to ensure that students and our colleagues are able to cope and do not feel overwhelmed.
I can attest to the countless emails that I receive on a daily basis, which under normal circumstances, would have been a brief conversation. It can very quickly feel as if you are drowning in emails and constantly having to complete a clear-out of emails. We must remind ourselves that it could prove detrimental to both staff retention and the student attainment gap if we continue with the ‘business as normal’ approach.
Instead, I encourage you all to fight for the wellbeing of your colleagues and students. Offer your students time to voice concerns, socialise or just to check in. It might also be useful to set up a virtual staffroom, or alternatively suggest one afternoon each week that can be dedicated to wellbeing or even time away from a screen. Whatever initiative you suggest, let’s continue to show compassion as remote learning/teaching is not easy in the slightest!
3. Be reflective, not critical!
Remote learning is relatively new to us all.
Ultimately you know your class better than anyone else does. I recommend that you take a moment to reflect after each lesson, and think about what activities have worked well, and what activities you may think twice before using in future lessons.
More importantly, don’t be afraid to ask your students for feedback; particularly as you may well be your own worst enemy and thus be incredibly hard on yourself.
Lastly, remember that you are trying the very best that you can under unique circumstances. You belong to a very strong community of teachers who are more than willing to help you out along the way!