10 Simple Things That Make A Difference In Remote Learning

Welp, here we are again in many parts of the United States, and around the world. Districts like my own kid’s school that were open in some type of hybrid plan, are now heading back to fully remote. Many schools never went back to in-person (or hybrid) and are staying remote.

As cases climb, I know many of us in the education community have not had a moment to take a deep breath and reflect on what has worked, and what will continue to work throughout this period of remote learning.

As a coach, one of the things I’ve always looked for is “small wins”. Those tiny achievements can lead to growth, but more importantly some level of confidence. In the midst of this year, I’ve been looking at the small and simple things much more closely, as they can really make an impact.

Here are ten simple and small ideas that have made a difference in my own kid’s remote learning, and have worked in many schools and classrooms around the world.

#1. The simple greeting

As teacher and author Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) reminds us, it is the little things that can make all the difference. Greeting each student, every day. Saying goodbye. Using names. All of these little things that teachers already are doing are even more important when the kids (and us) are behind a digital screen.

#2. Feedback

We know how powerful feedback can be in every single learning environment. The same is true in remote learning. Yet, it is also the types of feedback that matter. Consider what author Daniel Coyle had to say about a recent study in his book, The Talent Code:

#3. A Guest in their homes

As many educators have pointed out, when we go full remote learning, we are guests in our student’s homes. We have to respect their space, privacy, and be empathetic to a variety of situations.

This is why we have to be mindful of virtual backgrounds, cameras on/off, breaks from the screen, and so much more. If we go into this with the idea that we are a guest, it allows students to learn with flexibility.

#4. Adapt our school culture

#5. Mix up structures

In a recent post, I wrote about four different structures that work in hybrid and remote learning environments. While consistency can be necessary, it is also important to mix up structures to give students a variety of learning opportunities.

This way we can see which structures work best with the class, certain students, and for different types of instruction and content.

#6. But, keep tech simple and consistent

Should we mix up the technology as well? This depends on your class, the age of the learner, and their experience with various tech tools. However, what we’ve seen work really well in remote learning is keeping the technology simple and consistent. There are plenty of tech tools that allow you to organize, share, collaborate, and create. Find what works for your class, and keep it consistent so kids (and families) don’t get overwhelmed with “one more tool”.

#7. Weekly plans (with colleagues)

It’s extremely time-consuming to plan remote learning (ask any teacher, anywhere, about this and just listen for a moment to their answer).

So, as we head into another season of remote learning, let’s continue to rely on each other and our colleagues. When we plan and learn together as adults, the kids end up being the winners (oh, and it makes it more tolerable for us as well!).

#8. Listen to their stories, tell them yours

As Thomas Murray says, “The difference between making a judgement and having empathy, is understanding the story”.

We can’t understand the stories unless they are shared. Giving students, staff, and ourselves time and space to share our stories is so important right now.

#9. Respond, don’t react

When I saw this picture it caught me by surprise for how much it made me think. I’m often caught doing a lot of “reacting” when really I want to be “responding”.

The pause is crucial.

There are going to be moments we want to react so quickly. Take the time to respond, and see how it benefits all involved in the situation.

#10. Grace for ourselves, empathy for each other

I think Professor Muñoz sums it nicely. We are going to feel behind. We are going to feel less productive than a normal year.

Give yourself grace. Empathize with others who are in this situation as well.

Would love for you to share your simple tips for remote learning below in the comments!

If you would like to dive deeper into what’s working in Online Learning (remote, hybrid, concurrent), the Online Learning Master Course is currently on sale – check it out here.

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