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Five Tips for Online Learning From the Front Lines

Many of us have received the news that school as we knew it will not resume this academic year. With that comes a flood of very real and valid emotions such as disbelief, sadness, or even relief. Any way you look at it, this is tough. And I want to tell you that it's ok to feel whatever you're feeling. No judgements.

We're teachers because we love kids and teaching. By nature we want to provide the best learning opportunities for our students. When I sought out advice about transitioning to online learning, I knew exactly where to go for help. I recently ask my Prepping for Success Facebook group to share their top tips, and the responses were on point.

Top Five Online Teaching Tips

1. Set up a comfortable, cozy office area. You're going to be spending a lot of time sitting at a desk in front of your computer or laptop working on posting assignments, fielding questions, and answering emails. It helps if you have a dedicated space that mimics your work area at school. You may be "teaching" from your bedroom, living room or kitchen. Be sure to separate your work space, so it feels more like an office. Bring in favorite items that will help mimic your teacher's desk.

2. Give out assignments weekly and leave Friday open for a catch-up day. This is such great advice. Some teachers found that posting assignments on Sunday to be completed by Saturday worked well. Remember that parents are still working and trying to juggle at-home school, there may be multiple siblings in the home sharing devices, and let's face it...we just don't know the home situation during this crisis. A student might be living in conditions that are less than conducive to learning. Many families are simply in survival mode.

3. Record yourself teaching a concept or lesson. There are a few different ways to achieve this. I'll be posting a separate blog on this soon. To get started, check out Screencastify, which is a free Chrome extension and very easy to use. Google Meet saves videos directly to a Google Drive, so that makes it convenient for students to access. Videoing your lesson is also great because students can replay it multiple times if they need to hear it more than once for mastery.

4. Reach out to parents and students in multiple ways. Teachers are dedicating certain days of the week for phone calls, setting up office hours on specific days, and posting on their class website, Google Classroom, and other communication platforms regularly. Set up a schedule, find a routine, and stick to it.

5. Practice self care. Know that you are not alone in this. If you're not taking care of yourself and your family, you won't be able to serve your students. It's that simple. Make time each day for self care. This will be different for individuals but find what brings you joy and do that once a day. Maybe it's reading a book, working in your garden, playing with a pet, soaking in a tube of warm water, or taking a walk or bike ride. For me, it's getting outside in my backyard, watching my birds, and playing fetch with my dog. If you feel like you need to talk with a professional, there are online services that can help. I've seen posts from highly professional people who are sharing they are seeking help for mental wellness.

Looking for tips, techniques, and freebies for your classroom? Subscribe to get The Cheat Sheet each week and get a free guide to sharing resources with students!

If you have other tips for transitioning and adjusting to online learning, please comment and share those great ideas with me!

Happy teaching!

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