Updated: Apr 18, 2020
If you're struggling with e-learning, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Most of us were not taught to teach this way. It is not your fault. You are NOT incompetent (I actually had a teacher say this about herself and it broke my heart). If you are reading this post, I can pretty much guarantee that you are doing a DARN good job given your circumstances. You are making lemonade with some not-so-juicy lemons.
If your students are anything like mine, they are at home with busy, overwhelmed parents. They may or may not have access to strong wifi. Some of my students don't have a shared language with their parents. IT. IS. HARD.
I wanted to share 5 things that are working for me right now, and hopefully they'll help you out a bit.
TIP #1: Plan Your Week in Advance.
Every Friday, I make my plan for the following week. Before you think "Are you crazy!? That's too much work," please keep reading. I promise it saves me a TON of time. I write down my schedule as if it were a regular school week. Then, I fill it in as if I were planning for my classes. The difference is I plan a WHOLE lot less for each class (see #4). I make sure each thing is doable and builds on the child's prior knowledge. Then, I automate each piece of material to pop up on Google Classroom at 6:00 am the day I want the student to do it. I post videos of myself signing, links to activities, questions and more. I usually film all of the videos the Friday prior. Apart from the fact that my students may think I wear the same clothes every day, it's pretty awesome.
TIP #2: Try to get some face time.
With all my planning done the week before, the school week is a good time to get some face time with the kids and check on their learning. Depending on your school's regulations, set up a time to meet through the student's parents. I teach middle schoolers, so I have them or their parents fill out my appointment calendar on www.calendly.com (it's free!). That way I can give students 1:1 time and help out with their work for the week. For students, seeing your face can make all the difference. I have had some beautiful reunions in the form of tutoring sessions this past week. For the students that don't show up often, call/email their parents a day in advance and let them know when you'd like to schedule a session.
TIP #3: Talk, talk, talk to parents!
Remember that plan you made in #1? Send a version of that to the parents every week so they know what to expect. Let parents know where and how they can reach you. Although parents have varying levels of involvement, it is good for them to know that they're not alone either! Make sure to give POSITIVE news, too. If their kid is doing great, shoot them an email and let them know. If they need to turn something in, or don't get a concept, reach out and schedule a time that you can help them. If you feel like you're being a tad annoying, you're doing it right.
TIP #4: Adjust your expectations. I think this is the hardest part for us high-achieving educators. As you've heard a thousand times, we are living in unprecedented times. We have to adjust our expectations accordingly. While I never dreamed I would ask my middle schoolers to do just 5 math questions for homework, I am doing that now. The truth is, it keeps me and the students from being completely overwhelmed. Academics are important. We need to educate our students. But we also have to do our best to make sure our students are mentally able to learn. Overwhelming them with work (and thus overwhelming YOURSELF with work) is probably not the best route to take. Instead, focus on engagement, fun and mental well-being.
TIP #5: Use ONLINE Resources!!! The internet is your friend!
We are living in a time of abundant resources and a magical thing called the INTERNET. The beauty of the internet is that it is full of resources from people all over the globe, and you can still access it during this pandemic. There are countless websites that I love to use with my students. I do find that the best ones are paid (you get what you pay for, I guess!) but there are quite a few freebies out there too.
Here are some of my favorites:
1. www.readinga-z.com - totally worth the price - great for leveled reading.
2. www.teacherspayteachers.com - make sure you look for tech-friendly options!
3. www.brainpop.com - Great for some, but language not being adjusted makes it difficult for most of my kiddos - I will sometimes show these and interpret them in ASL.
4. www.freckle.com - again, language is the main obstacle, but lots of resources!
5. www.modalmath.com - YES, I use it as a teacher, too. In fact, I originally made it because nobody else would and I absolutely NEEDED it for my DHH kids. It is now making my life (and the lives of fellow teachers and parents) so much simpler.
If you have a teacher friend that this could help, go ahead and send this to them.
As always, if you want to start your free trial of Modal Math (and save some precious planning time), click here --> www.modalmath.com/sign-up. .
And remember, you are doing a spectacular job.