3 Tips for Successful Virtual Teaching
Tips from a classroom teacher on adapting to virtual teaching and how to balance your new responsibilities without burning out.
Written By Kate Matson, 1st Grade Teacher in FL.
Last March, the world as we knew it was turned on its head and every teacher, no matter the level of experience, was placed on an even, albeit completely unfamiliar, playing field. Virtual teaching. Distance learning. Remote instruction. Regardless of what you called it, it. was. hard. Hard on the kids, hard on the families, and so very hard on the teachers.
The last three months of the school year was stressful and exhausting and, even though teaching was done from the comforts of home, it was without question more work, time, and effort than was ever needed before.
Whether you are in the classroom or remote teaching, this year continues to look very different from the norm and teachers are forced to adapt. Fortunately, teachers are real live superheroes when it comes to going above and beyond the call of duty and, if anyone can adapt and make the best of a tough situation, it is a teacher!
Below are my top three tips to help adapt to distance learning:
1. Share The Burden
While the actual act of teaching remotely is a challenge in itself, planning for remote learning may be an even greater task. My husband once used the analogy of a duck paddling across a pond. Above the surface, things look polished and graceful, but underwater, that little bird is paddling furiously and trying to stay afloat.
I am sure I would have sunk had I not had the support of an amazing team to help ease the burden. Together we formulated a general plan that we would use to cover the necessary instruction for the week and then delegated the responsibilities.
One person detailed the plans for reading and language arts, while another covered math, science, and social studies. A support person stood watch over the copy machine feeding it additional paper as the packets of instruction and necessary resources were printed for the week. (Note: We later became more resourceful and learned how to scan documents and email them to parents so they could print from home!) You get the idea.
I learned quickly that we were all in this together and relying on each other was a necessity.
2. Give Up Some Control
I don’t know about you, but being a teacher has caused me to be a little bit of a control freak. I like to plan my day and I like for things to go as I have planned. A worldwide pandemic that resulted in distance learning was definitely not in my plans.
I quickly discovered that I had to give up some control and become more flexible. For example, I began to ask my parents to grade some of their child’s work and submit the grade to me on an online survey I had created. While I knew that the scores may not be an accurate representation of the child’s knowledge or ability, it did save me tons of time grading, limited paper exchange, and most importantly, it allowed me the time to Zoom individually with some of my students that I knew needed the added support.
Bottom line, this was a year like none other and I needed to be flexible enough to make the adjustments necessary that would help my students to be successful.
3. Turn it off
At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, teaching from home means you are teaching from home. There is no getting away from it. I found myself turning on the computer with my morning cup of coffee to set up the resources I needed for my daily Zoom lessons. Hours were spent on the couch planning and researching resources that would engage my students. There was a constant flood of parent emails that needed responses throughout the day and well into the evening.
I learned quickly that burn-out was going to happen if I didn’t set some boundaries. I began to give myself a set time to ‘turn things off,’ rest, relax, refresh, and step away from the virtual classroom. This became not only a benefit for me, but also for my students as they had a much happier, more balanced teacher!
This year, I have been fortunate enough to be in an area which has allowed me to return to the classroom (with many safety precautions in place, of course), but I am still teaching remotely for those students that were unable to safely return. While I may not often feel like a superhero, I am so very grateful for my experiences from last year. They have helped me to not only enjoy this year, but I feel my students are more successful too!
Kindermark Kids, A Brentpoint Company
- Melissa Kistner