You are doing your very best to meet your district's guidelines and mostly to meet your students' needs while teaching from your home but are you doing it efficiently? Are you getting the biggest bang for your time?
All of a sudden you're online like you've never been before. Me too. Aspiring to be the best I can for my students, I'm learning lots and lots of new things. I bet you are too. We care so much for our students that we continue to pour our hearts out for them, even from afar. But when is it enough? I've been sliding down a slippery slope. I have a confession: I suck at remote teaching.
Why? Because, like you, I'm relational. While screen connections are great, they don't replace my longing for the impromptu stories, giggles, and hugs. (I even miss the occasional eye rolls.) I miss the rumble and raucous of engaged students.
Believing in hands-on, life applicable lessons leave me scrambling for engagement opportunities for students that aren't overly stressful for families and that are equitable. Think about it, we've been given a tall order. Like always, educators rise up to the challenge. We do it because we love our students and teaching. But still...
for me, it's a band-aid.
To save you some time, here are five things that I've learned that aren't effective teaching from afar and how to improve.
5 Ways to Suck at Remote Teaching
1. Trying to do all the things
We are so fortunate to live in a progressive time with thousands and thousands of options at our finger tips. You've probably used Google Classroom, Zoom, Wakelet, Seesaw, Flipgrid, and YouTube just to name a few. While, like you, I have the capability to do it all, I choose one or two. Stick to one or two methods that work for you and your students. Provide predictability and consistency by sticking with what works. (Then, they don't have to keep learning something new. They can spend their time engaging with you, the content, and classmates.) I've learned on-line time is sacred especially when you have unstable internet. I live in the country, really rural; it's a beautiful place to live as long as you don't need reliable internet. I've spent a crazy amount of time creating only a couple of videos. My internet is so slow that it took five hours to upload one lesson on YouTube. (Can you feel my pain?) My lesson learned was to upload videos right before I go to bed so that all my internet band width isn't consumed during the day. Find and focus on what works best for you and stick with it.
2. Trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing
Through scouring social media for the best methods to reach my students, I've learned from my professional learning network ingenious ways to engage and interact. While I love to see what everyone is doing, I've got to be mindful about my students, my relationship with them, and what works for us. Be sure to glean tips without comparing yourself to others. Run your race.
3. No breaks
The other day, I caught myself eating lunch stooped over my keyboard. At the end of the day, my shoulders were tight and sore from sitting at the keyboard. I became mindful that my day usually consists of eight hours nonstop movement on my feet. You and I are not accustomed to sitting at a screen for extended periods of time; therefore, it's even more important to stop and take a break. Step away and do some stretches. We give our students movement and brain breaks, right? So give yourself a break and take a break. You might want to try this mindful activity.
4. Neglecting your family
We know that everyone thrives with routine and schedules that is why we create them for our students. We work hard to stick to our routines and schedules for our students. It isn't any different in our homes. Create a daily schedule. Program your remote teaching, your at home obligations, and all events on the schedule. Even include lunch time. (Just like your school schedule.) Program time for breaks and self- care. Add the time to get up and get dressed. (I've found that I attack my day better when I get dressed. But of course, I program pajama days too.) Each day, choose one thing you've been wanting to do with your family but don't usually have time to do and schedule it. I find that most of what we schedule gets accomplished. (and of course, be flexible. The schedule is pliable, right?) I have a morning meeting with my family to go over our thoughts, plans, and feelings for the day. Our family meeting focuses us for the day. We are less frazzled and frustrated with each other because we've set the expectations. Schedule a daily family meeting.
5. Trying to teach like you are in your classroom
This is a no-brainer, yet even though I know logically I can't do what I was doing before school closures, my idealism still tries to live up to idealistic, self-imposed expectations. Let's strip those right now. We can be realistic with our new situation and teach real lessons in new ways. Don't worry about what you're not doing. Focus on connection and empathy. Listen to your students first and foremost just like you would in your classroom. If that is all you get accomplished, consider it a win!
Just do one thing a bit better today than you did yesterday.
You make a difference!
(Grab your own free customizable remote teaching & family planner. Scroll down to free resources.)