“Remote learning isn’t quite what I expected. I assumed that delivering lessons online would mean a lot more time to focus on planning. In reality, remote learning is very time-consuming.”
Schools across the country temporarily closed their doors due to COVID-19. Many schools have since reopened, but some have decided to keep students at home, leaving many students to continue their remote learning set up. As learning from home becomes a “new normal”, new possibilities are emerging for students, from independent learning in primary schools through to open universities that offer distance and open learning programs.
We spoke to Sally, a 4th grade teacher with more than ten years of teaching experience, about how she is navigating the challenges of remote teaching and how others can learn to make the best of it.
Stop, plan and focus
“At first, I felt a bit overwhelmed but once I scheduled in time for each part of the process, I was able to focus and give my full attention to each component of remote learning, and it has helped a lot,” Sally shares.
Creating a timetable for each day can help alleviate the pressures of teaching remotely. It’s important for students to have structure to keep their learning on track.
Set the right challenge
Research from The Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation suggests that when teachers set high expectations, students perform better. Students in NSW who report experiencing high expectations from their teacher in Year 5 can be at least 6 months ahead in learning than a student who does not.
However, Sally communicates that remote learning comes with another level of complexity.
“It’s a balance between providing effective teaching and learning but ensuring you don’t overwhelm families. Recognise that each family is subject to different challenges and that this will affect how much learning can occur at home.”
Sally suggests that adjusting timeframes and expectations for independent tasks is crucial and highlights the importance of giving the right level of feedback to keep students challenged and motivated.
“When learners feel too strictly monitored or feedback is overwhelming, they may become nervous or self-conscious and disengage. And teachers instantly recognise when it is not the student’s work. If this happens, it’s important to explain to the parents that they need to allow the student to make their own mistakes and leave us to give appropriate feedback.”
Be the glue
Students will respond to changing routines and environments in different ways. After the novelty of staying home has worn off, many students may miss socialising with their peers at school. Sally suggests encouraging interaction between students during online classes, so they don’t feel alone in this new experience.
Have fun with it
Engage in daily conversations with your students to help create a sense of normalcy. Sally recommends doing a fun activity together.
“I read them a class novel every day over Microsoft Teams, and they love it. I know my colleagues have been doing things such as telling silly jokes to students during the morning check-in and finding ways to connect.”
Sally also suggests integrating learning into the home – doing math by creating geometric shapes on the driveway or exploring fractions while baking a cake – to make learning more playful. On this note, arts and crafts is a great way to encourage independent learning too.
Partner with parents
Check in with parents to ensure they continue to support their child’s remote learning but be flexible around tasks. Some students may not be able to get through the set work due to parents juggling other commitments, such as work and their other childrens’ learning needs.
Sally reflects on her experience so far and says that one positive outcome from this set up is more empathy and understanding between parents and teachers.
“I have learnt that everything that parents know about teaching comes from their own school experience. Which may sound quite obvious, but it is essential to remember. I have parents messaging me things like ‘thank you so much, you are a saint’ and ‘I don’t know how teachers do it, you are amazing’. The general feedback and thank you’s go a long way and make me feel incredibly valued.”
A special thank you from all of us at Winc, to Sally and teachers everywhere. For more information on how Winc can support your teaching requirements, please contact 13 26 44 to speak to one of our Education Specialists or view our complete range online.
Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation 2019a, How high expectations and engagement in primary school drive student learning, NSW Department of Education