Teachers are living through what is possibly the most challenging school year any teacher has ever faced in modern history. School districts are moving between in-person learning with social distancing guidelines, online learning, or a hybrid learning model with a mix of the two. As the numbers of COVID-19 cases fluctuate, so do the forms that learning takes. How does a teacher plan and prepare as these changes happen?
We have done a true deep dive into the resources, courses, blog articles, YouTube videos, and more covering the various learning models we have been facing this year. We have searched for truly practical strategies that will benefit teachers without totally overwhelming them. So many professionals with varying experiences are willing to share their expertise and we have done the work for you in finding them.
Free Courses for online teaching
If you're looking for more in-depth training without spending a cent, these free courses are the way to go.
- Remote Learning 101: The Tips, Tools, and Practices You Need to Teach Remotely - This free course comes from Matt Miller, the author of the well-know teaching book Ditch That Textbook. It helps teachers think through their plan for teaching remotely with downloadable planning materials, practical ideas, and more.
- Designing for Online Learning - The Global Online Academy has many courses for teachers about online learning. This is their free course designed to introduce teachers to the practical elements of online learning. It's mainly geared toward educators who will be teaching upper elementary, middle, and high school students.
- Remote Learning: How You Can Use Regular Resources to Teach Students Even When They’re Not in the Classroom - This course comes from Minds in Bloom and helps teachers translate their already-existing lessons and material into an online teaching experience.
- Impact From A Distance: Academic, Behavioral and Social Emotional Strategies for Students & Educators during COVID-19 - Catapult Learning has four free webinars covering not just academics, but also how to provide behavior, social, and emotional support during this time of challenges and changes.
- Global EdTech Academy Sessions Playlist - This free YouTube playlist from Global EdTech Academy covers a multitude of topics, including distance learning tools such as FlipGrid, Hyperdocs, Skype, OneNote, etc. They even have a video titled Special Education Best Practices for Remote and Blended Learning with Naomi Harm.
mindset shifts for teaching in 2020-21
Accepting that the 2020-2021 school year looks different requires some mindset shifts. If you're struggling with this, here are some resources to help.
- Flexible resilience: My manifesto for the coming school year - This article from Angela Watson shares why and how teachers should be a part of the conversation about plans for this school year. It also shares 5 core beliefs that can guide you to not just survive, but thrive in this new model of schooling (whatever it may be).
- Things You Can Do Right Now to Prepare for an Uncertain School Year - Molly shares very practical things you can do right now to prepare- even if you have no idea what format schooling will be taking!
- How to Deal with Bad Feelings About Teaching This Year - If you're struggling with negative emotions around teaching this year or thinking about taking a leave of absence or retiring, this article is for you. It includes a protocol for self-examination to help you decide next steps.
- When Doing Your Best Just Isn't Good Enough... -This is an encouraging article for teachers who feel like they can't reach every student and those who feel like they're doing everything humanly possible and it's still not enough.
In-Person Teaching With Social Distancing
If you're not sure what teaching in the physical classroom should look like with masks, social distancing, and hygiene protocols, check out these resources.
- Welcome to the War: Sars-C0V 2 and School Risk Mitigation - John Ferrell, MD presents the medical facts about coronavirus and how to keep teachers safe in the classroom. If you're anxious about getting sick if you return to the classroom, this is a must-watch.
- Advice from a Teacher Who Has Taught Through 2 Pandemics - Gahmya Drummond-Bey has taught through 2 pandemics in South Korea. Her advice is incredible! She shares tips for helping the classroom feel like a community despite social distancing and how to help students deal with their anxiety.
- Teaching Tip: Stay Safe When Returning to School - Teacher and blogger Judi Holst spoke with one of her student's parents, who is a renowned pulmonologist, for advice on keeping teachers safe when they return to school. It's full of extremely practical ideas, such as what kind of water bottle you should use and where to keep your belongings.
- 25 Fun Classroom Brain Breaks that Maintain Social Distancing - Brain breaks and physical movement are as important as ever in the classroom! They can still happen even while social distancing with these creative ideas.
Designing an Online Lesson
If you feel like you have no idea what you're doing with online learning or if you're a brand new teacher, these resources are a good place to start. They cover the basics of designing an online lesson, so they can be used for distance or hybrid learning.
- Read the World Distance Learning Support - The authors of Amplify Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom keep this webpage updated with digital learning tips and resources. They have a collection of wonderful infographics, including this one:
- Steps to Designing an E-Learning or Online Unit - Elizabeth Taylor from Between the Lines shares the 10 steps she goes through when designing an online unit and includes specific ideas for how to complete each step effectively.
- Virtual Best Practices Webinar - This awesome webinar comes from the California Teachers Assocation. Nicole Piper shares a basic overview of the elements needed for an online class, but she also goes through each element with visual examples and she makes it FUN.
- How to be the Effective Online Math Teacher You Need to be! - Two Boys and a Dad takes the basic overview from the webinar above and applies it specifically to teaching a math class online. He includes example slides, shares how to use virtual manipulatives, and more!
- How to Teach Remotely - The New Edtech Classroom shares 10 principles for translating an in-person teaching experience to an online one. He also shares the wide variety of platforms that can be used to fulfill each of these principles.
student engagement and accountability
So many teachers shared at the end of last school year that they had students who completely stopped logging on and doing the work. How do we help keep students engaged in distance or hybrid learning? How do we hold them accountable? These resources can help answer such tough questions.
- How To Make Your Online Lessons Irresistible To Students - Michael Linsin of Smart Classroom Management shares 5 ideas that make logging on fun for students and make the online classroom engaging.
- Bitmoji Classroom Scenes & Virtual Classroom Backgrounds - The entire Erintegration website is full of technology tools and tips for teachers. Specifically, this article teaches you how to make your online classroom more visually enjoyable by using bitmoji to create fun scenes and images.
- 4 Ways to Craft Choice Menus in Distance Learning Classes - Choice menus are a great way to increase student motivation and allow students to have some control over their learning. John Spencer shares ways to implement this strategy in this article.
- Engaging Students in an Online Lesson - Elizabeth Taylor from Between the Lines shares 6 principles for making your online lesson more engaging and ensuring that every student actively participates. She also shares examples and tools for implementing these principles.
- How To Increase Student Online Participation By 50 Percent - Michael Linsin of Smart Classroom Management shares a powerful strategy (with a script!) for getting checked out students to log back in.
- How to Build Strong Relationships with Students if You’re Starting the Year Online: Principles and Practices - Dave Stuart Jr. explains how he will transfer his grounding principles for teacher-student relationships to an online environment.
- 5 Ways to Boost Attendance in Virtual Class Meetings - If you're having trouble getting students to show up for virtual class meetings, try these 5 tips from John Spencer.
- How to Capture and Hold Your Students' Attention on Zoom - An extremely simple, yet effective, way to keep your students' attention. Any teacher can make this adjustment immediately.
- Cameras On... Please? Ideas for Turning Empty Squares into Faces - Dave Stuart Jr. reviews an article from Edutopia about ideas for getting students to turn on their cameras and explains which ones he will attempt and how.
- Building Community Virtually with Friendly Fridays - A teacher shares how she tweaks her Friendly Friday tradition for the virtual classroom. Friendly Fridays teach social-emotional learning skills, build community, and spread kindness.
tips for hybrid learning
A hybrid learning model refers to a combination of in-person and distance learning. Sometimes, it can mean that some students are learning online full-time, while others are in the classroom. However, the teacher must communicate the same instruction to both kinds of learners.
- 5 Tips to Prepare for Blended Learning - The New EdTech Classroom shares specific tips for teaching in a hybrid model, where some instruction happens in-class and some happens online, and how you can prepare for it, even before school starts.
- How to Flip Your Classroom: A Great Solution for Hybrid Learning - Flipping your classroom is a great solution to hybrid learning. This article explains how to flip your classroom to ensure that every student receives the same instruction.
- Flexible, Resilient Pedagogy: How to Plan Activities that Work for In-person, Remote, AND Hybrid Instruction - The most efficient way to lesson plan in a hybrid classroom is to create lessons that both sets of learners can complete. In this article, Angela explains how to do this and why it's effective.
Improving Your Hybrid or Online Teaching
If you feel like you have the basics of teaching online down and want to elevate your instruction, these are your resources.
- Empowering Students in Distance Learning Classes - This is an extremely thorough class from John Spencer that covers topics such as boosting engagement, empowering students, and tapping into student curiosity and interests.
- 9 Ways Online Teaching Should be Different from Face-to-Face - In a conversation with Jennifer Gonzalez of Cult of Pedagogy, Melanie Kitchen shares 9 ways online teaching should look different than in-person learning and a few things that should stay the same.
- Teacher Training Videos - This web page is full of free teacher training videos specific to teaching online. If there's a new tool you're wanting to try, there's a good chance Russell has a video about it! He also has videos on online teaching tips for student collaboration, student assessment, and more.
- 70 E-Learning Activities - Matt Miller from Ditch That Textbook shares links to 70 elearning activities, templates, and tutorials in this article. If you're looking to try something new with your online lessons, start here.
- A Few Creative Ways to Use Student Blogs - Having students start their own blog can be a great long-term project for hybrid or online learning- they can work on their blog from anywhere! It's also easy to assess the students and know they're not cheating or copying with this assignment.
- How to Limit Your Students' Screen Time - If you're concerned about your students spending hours staring at a screen, implement more independent work! Michael Linsin provides tips for doing this in a virtual way.
- How to Humanize your Classroom so Kids are Known, Valued, Respected, & Safe - Dave Stuart Jr. talks to Angela Watson of Cornerstone for Teachers about humanizing your classroom- whether it's online or in-person.
get more tips!
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And if you're looking for specific tools to use in distance, hybrid, or flipped learning, read our article Teacher Tech Tools for Digital or Blended Learning next.
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This is a fantastic and laudable idea and development. I truly appreciate this.
So glad it was helpful.
I appreciate this and wish to participate.
You are very welcome!!
Change is the only thing in the world that is consistent. Covid has changed the entire world forever. By the way, your post is awesome and informative.
I almost took the course from Ditch That Textbook and I can confirm that there is an incredible amount of useful information there for those who have not practiced remote learning before. As a total novice, I was immersed in the process of remote learning, but this course was the only one that helped me understand what I was doing wrong.
Thank you, these are helpful resources for me. We are continuing remote learning next semester and I would like to make the process the most effective. Student engagement and accountability are the most relevant.