With the pandemic altering the way primary and secondary schools operate, it can be difficult for both teachers and students to adjust to distance learning. As a teacher, you must utilize various resources to not only teach children but to also increase the likelihood they can learn effectively through a new modality.
Accessibility is possibly the most important consideration in distance learning. Many school districts had to make resources available with little warning so all students could have access to course materials. This may have included loaning computers or tablets to students most in need and finding resources for free or reduced-cost internet. As a teacher, it is your duty to provide a continuation of accessible materials while keeping students of few resources in mind. One approach is to make course materials, such as notes and outlines readily available in a downloadable file, such as a PDF format. This way, students do not need internet access to reference the file once it has been downloaded.
Other useful tools include pre-recorded lectures or archived lectures that can be downloaded by students for later reference. English teachers who assign books as part of their curriculum should minimize newer books as part of the lesson plan and try to rely more on classics. Fortunately, many older works are available for download online because they are no longer under copyright. This approach can be extremely beneficial to lower-income students whose only access to books is what is provided by the school or borrowed from the library, which may also be closed. Increased accessibility includes relying on software that is open-source alternatives to major software companies. For example, Google Docs and OpenOffice are comparable to Microsoft Office.
Teachers who would normally have a midterm and final, with possibly a major paper, should find ways to test more frequently and create smaller assignments closer together. The objective is to create a system of more frequent feedback and not overwhelm students with a lot of material to be covered on a single test. In the distance learning format, it may be easier for students to ask for help because they can send a message at any time and students may feel more comfortable asking for help when they do not have to approach the teacher directly. Unfortunately, the distance learning format can make it harder to explain the material, especially with math and science. More frequent feedback in the form of tests, quizzes, and assignments makes it easier for teachers to identify students struggling with the material, possibly before difficulties turn into failing grades for the semester.
Find Additional Resources
Fortunately, the internet has an infinite supply of free resources to help students with any subject. You should not leave it up to students to hunt for the resources on their own or languish because they are not aware of other resources. Some of the best resources online, especially for math and science, are on YouTube. The major benefit of YouTube is it works well for different learning styles. For example, children who are struggling to understand math can see the problems being worked out, with an explanation of the process. Since the understanding of science is often contingent upon lab work and doing experiments, students can at least see another person doing the experiments so they may have a better understanding of the processes. One of the main reasons to find additional resources is to respect that your explanation may not work well for all students. Sometimes another person can explain the concept in a different way that is more understandable to some students.
Transitioning to distance learning is not only difficult for teachers, but students may have difficulties adapting to an informal learning environment. Teachers should take into account differences in learning styles and what are the most accessible tools available to every student to prevent someone from being left behind.
Contact a provider of distance learning resources for teachers to learn more.