It’s the start of a new term, yet Summer 2020 is like no term any teacher has ever experienced. The ongoing global pandemic has changed everything we know about teaching and it’s difficult to be fully prepared in times like these. However, as teachers and school leaders, we need to continue educating the children in our care; it’s just a case of using the tools we have available to find new ways to deliver the curriculum and support students and parents to engage with this new way of learning. With this in mind, here is some advice on how to continue to find success through distance learning.
Parents have been thrown into a new and potentially stressful situation here. Overnight, they became their child’s teacher, and for many that’s been a real challenge. Even those parents who have relished the opportunity to get more involved in their child’s education may need a little support or advice as the weeks pass. Contact parents to check how students are getting along, and to support parents with any issues they may have. Don’t just make this a one-off conversation; keep in regular contact and make the conversation about more than just school work.
Yes, school’s out for summer (potentially), but that doesn’t mean learning has to slow down or stop altogether. Make sure you provide rich content for children to work on at home, to supplement any more practical activities they may be doing with parents. The internet is a vast library of audio visual and interactive content and providing links to useful resources ensures children continue following the curriculum and increasing their knowledge.
Let’s not forget that children will be finding this period of their lives stressful as well. They’ve been thrown out of their usual routine, they’re missing their friends, they can’t get outside to play, and they may be worried about family members or the future – and then you expect them to do school work as well! Getting children to engage might be difficult, especially when there are so many other activities calling for their attention. Using an online tool like School Jotter Learn means you can include interactive games and fun videos in your learning materials, meaning children are more likely to engage and learn.
In the classroom you have a range of systems for measuring every aspect of a child’s development, from numeracy and literacy skills to how well they can hold a pencil or throw a ball. It’s much more difficult measuring attainment remotely, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the effort. After all, it’s important to be able to show kids (and parents) how much they have improved, and knowing their ability level when school finally reopens will make integration that bit easier. Make sure online lessons include quizzes and “homework” that needs submitting – you can do this in School Jotter Learn – and offer children extra help wherever it’s needed.
It may be tempting to push six weeks’ content out at once and leave kids to get on with it at their own pace, but this is not a good idea for many reasons. Firstly, seeing so much work at once could prove to be demoralising, demotivating or stressful for many children, who may feel overwhelmed or that they need to complete it all at once. In fact, some students will want to race ahead and finish work as quickly as they can, which will leave them with nothing to do for the remainder of the half term. A far better idea is to set work weekly or even daily; however you choose to schedule it, make sure it’s regular and consistent. Routine is important for us all, and children will find it easier to engage with home learning when there is a structured system in place. Again, School Jotter Learn can help you organise your online lessons so they are delivered to children in a consistent way.
To summarise, here are the key points to ensure distance learning works and online lessons are a success.
Stay in contact: check in with parents regularly, chat about both school work and home life, and offer support where it’s needed.
Provide rich content: follow the curriculum as closely as you can and supplement more formal learning with audio visual content and practical activities kids can do at home.
Make it fun: use interactive games and videos to keep kids interested and engaged.
Measure attainment: use quizzes or set activities to be sent back to you so you can see how much improvement is being made – and offer additional help when needed.
Keep it consistent: set work regularly; create a “timetable” and stick to it.
Good luck and enjoy the new term – however unusual it may be! And if you need any support or advice on how you can deliver successful remote learning to your students, please don’t hesitate to contact us here– we are here to help.