Dear Lydia

Help … It’s starting to feel like March 2020 again. My school system just went back virtual learning temporarily. I could use some advice on how to deal with teaching virtually again! 


Zoomed Out

Dear Zoomed Out, 

Here is what is most important to remember — the greatest factor in the success of your virtual classroom is YOU. Your mindset and attitude toward learning will influence how your students react. So, consider the advice below for both your own personal benefit and that of your students:

  1. Set clear expectations. Describe to students what successful behavior looks like in a virtual classroom. This may include having their microphones muted or raising their hand if they would like to share. Consider using Empowered currency to help reinforce your expectations. 
  2. Build the relationships. Consider using the two-word/phrase check-in from Brené Brown: Ask students to share how they are feeling in the chat. They could use words, emojis, gifs, etc. It is quick and easy and provides insight into how they are feeling. If you aren’t able to address all of the responses or those that concern you, make a note to follow-up with students with a direct message or email. 
  3. Make learning engaging. This seems like a no-brainer, but it is worth stating again because, when learning goes virtual, we tend to forget that learning should be fun, inclusive, and meaningful. Use EdTech tools like Pear Deck, Flipgrid, or Kahoot to add some flair. And don’t underestimate the power of movement in learning, even when students are at home. A couple of examples to try: Ask students to move to one side of their screen if they agree or disagree with the prompt or ask them to make a shape with their body to show the differences between bodies of water. Movement keeps the blood flowing and is SO much better than sitting and staring at the screen. Need inspiration? Check out our Marketplace for ideas of experiential activities — each one has a virtual and in-real-life version. 
  4. Less is more. lLess homework, less direct instruction, all of it! Research shows that students need breaks every 20 minutes (some say even sooner than that!) when learning virtually. Consider how learning could be chunked to allow for some brain breaks, collaboration opportunities, and independent work.

Like I said, this advice is for you personally, too; clear expectations allows you to focus your energy, building relationships fuels your fulfillment, engaging learning makes things enjoyable and usually takes less talking from you as students collaborate on their own, and the “less is more” approach minimizes some of the burden that can lead to burnout. 

You. Can. Do. This.

Happy Teaching and Stay Empowered,

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