Preparing for distance learning can feel overwhelming and seem impossibly complex, but it doesn’t have to be. I, along with every other instructor across the globe, am tasked with creating and delivering instruction completely online, and I imagine you may be as well. So, to help, I have compiled a short list of tips and tricks to make distance learning successful for you!
Set Boundaries for Yourself
Just like you had specific hours set aside for your plan time or office hours, keep this routine. Your routine may change, but it’s important to at least establish some form of a routine that works for you (and your family) and your students. Routine is important to maintain normalcy and keep business as usual. With everything that has changed, and changes being made on a daily basis, it’s good to have something that you can adhere to.
Maybe have a set hour where you respond to student emails and questions and another hour where you grade assignments. Maybe you set aside another hour where you hold virtual office hours. This can be where you sit with a meeting open and you make yourself available for students to hop on and ask any questions they may have. I am using Google Meet and have found it to be a very easy transition.
I imagine you also have other obligations at home besides teaching, so you will want to make sure you set boundaries that allow you to fulfill not only your teaching obligations, but also your family obligations as well.
Keep it Simple
Many instructors and students are in the same situation, and this is all new. At first, start small and simple with the lessons, materials, and tools you use. Start with tools you and your students are familiar with. If, for instance, you are most comfortable using Google products for your classroom, then stick with that. No need to reinvent your entire class if you don’t need to. Lean on what you already use and do to help you get started. If you are familiar with Google, feel free to browse all my products that use Google Slides here.
Along the lines of keeping it simple, be sure to give yourself (and your students) a little grace as you transition to distance learning. It can be a learning curve as to what “turning in” an assignment looks like, for example, and due date times as well. Keep in mind you may be contractually obligated to stick to due dates on your course outline – even during this uncertain time. Also, do not pressure yourself to have the perfect lessons and structure. If you need to tweak something as you go, give yourself the grace to change and adapt as you go.
Set up a Work Area
If you don’t already have a work area set up at home, set aside some space in your house to designate this just for teaching and working. Your dining room table is convenient and centrally located; however, it can be taken over by pencils, Post-It notes, and notebooks very quickly and make it difficult for you to set boundaries for your work. Having a separate space in your house designated just for work will help you compartmentalize (in a healthy way) your obligations and how you spend your time.
Explore New Tools and Lessons
You may find yourself with a little bit of extra time on your hands and this is the perfect time to revamp some of your lessons and strengthen those areas where you feel you need some more depth. Feel free to check out some of my online resources – some are now discounted 20-30% to support you as you transition to remote learning.
I hope you have found at least one nugget in this article to help you as you incorporate distance learning into your teaching repertoire!