Educator: Students need social connection, clear plans in online learning

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Dive Brief:

  • Drew Craft, a 4th-grade teacher in New York City, tells eSchool News he was able to stick to his classroom schedule when schools transitioned to distance learning because his instruction was already tech-heavy. For his students, that means starting at 9:30 a.m. with a Google Slides presentation detailing the day’s plans, just as they did when they were in the classroom. He takes attendance by asking the class a question that everyone answers. 
  • Students log on again at 12:30 p.m. for afternoon activities and connect via Google Hangouts for chats. Craft said he needs to monitor the chats, just as he would if students were in his classroom, and while he found the same social problems that existed during in-person classes transferred to virtual learning, students enjoyed the opportunity to connect.
  • Craft urges teachers to “make sure that students have a sense of connection and way for their voices to be heard” during remote learning. When classrooms closed, he began posting a photo or video from a field trip or class activity to remind students of more normal times.

Dive Insight:

Making the transition to online learning was challenging for many teachers, but creative approaches have emerged. One of the first things teachers can do when transitioning to online learning is to establish distance learning rules and etiquette. Distance learning is a new experience for most students and educators alike, so expectations on etiquette need to be set early. Muting microphones and not interrupting one another are basic first steps.

In a PDK survey, 76% of students reported missing the structure and interaction face-to-face learning provides. Consistent plans, however, can help give students and their parents the tools to find information and share assignments.

Some subjects, like the arts, are more difficult to transition to online learning, as supplies are typically only available in the classroom. However, educators at Leicester Public Schools, for example, used Flipgrid and Padlet as a means for students to display art projects crafted with home materials and record videos of themselves telling the backstory.

Also, professional development continues to be important as teachers learn new ways to deliver curriculum online. Some of the best practices emerging from the pandemic now, experts say, could turn out to be lasting game-changers that impact education long after the health crisis subsides.

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