5 Tips for Teaching Remotely

As a teacher, when I think of 2020 I will forever remember the year that education changed almost overnight.  Teachers, administrators and school leadership worked tirelessly to keep education moving forward when the doors of the school were closed.  The solution was remote teaching and distance learning.  Along with teachers around the world, I jumped into remote learning and now I want to share some of the best tips and ideas that I received and discovered.

remote teaching and distance learning tips for teachers

1. Communication is Key

Just like any new thing we do in our classrooms, learning outside the classroom requires the same communication and explicit instructions.  Communicating with both parents and students is of vital importance.  
remote teaching communicate with parents and students

Communicating With Parents

Teaching remotely doesn’t just include your students.  In fact, depending on the age and grade level of your students a varying amount of parental involvement will be part of the remote learning process.  We must remember that most of our students’ parents have not been trained as teachers.  Here’s 5 important things we should communicate to the parents.
  • Teach them how to use the digital learning platform you are using, if you are using one.  Remember, the idea of learning online probably didn’t exist when any of the parents were in school.  They are new to this too!  Show them where to go and what to click on.  
  • Tell (or better yet show) them exactly what needs to be done in each assignment.  Think of it like visual sub plans.  If you have a specific objective or expectation, that needs to be communicated with the person that will be sitting side by side with the student.
  • Explain the learning goals so that you and the parents on the same page.  If you have a handwriting assignment, let the parents know that handwriting is the objective.  However, if the goal is complete sentences and proper punctuation, let the parents know that too.  Nothing will diminish the at home learning relationship more than parents who are requiring perfection in every area.  After all, our students rarely do perfect work in the classroom so why should they be expected to do that at home.
  • Give the parents some tips for “classroom” management and motivating students.  Let them know that creating some structure and routine will help in the learning process.  Give them a sample schedule and ideas for brain breaks.  Give them ideas for learning activities that don’t involve sitting at the computer or kitchen table.
  • Give the parents permission to to be flexible and give themselves and their children grace.  Let them know that you understand what they are going through, and the stress they are likely facing.  Let them know that you are on their side and that you are a team.

Communicating with Students

In the classroom it is important to give students explicit instructions.  We start the year teaching them classroom procedures and how to make the classroom run efficiently.  We lay out the steps for completing a task or working on independent centers.  We give explicit instructions.  Outside of the classroom, explicit instructions are even more important.

remote learning communicate explicitly with students

Our students may or may not have experience with the online learning platform.  We must teach them how to use it, where to look for assignments and communication, and where and how to turn in assignments. 
When it comes to assignments, we must give explicit instructions for those too.  In the classroom, we are there to answer questions and monitor our students.  During distance learning, we must try to think ahead to the questions our students will ask, or areas they might not understand.  By answering those questions before hand we can set our students up for successful remote learning.

2. Help Students Stay Organized

Organization will be an important part of remote teaching.  Not only must we as teachers be organized, but we must help our students stay organized too.  In the classroom, we help our students transition from one activity to another.  At home, much of that responsibility will be on them and for a young student that could be very overwhelming.  So help your students stay organized.

teaching remotely ideas for teachers

A daily or weekly assignment checklist is a great way to help students.  More than just a list of assignments, a check list that allows them to mark off completed assignments not only gives them a visual but also a sense of accomplishment.  I don’t know about you but I’ve been known to add something I just finished to my to-do list just so I could mark it off.  I know I can’t be the only one!  
Grab a free EDITABLE checklist here to keep your students on track!

remote teaching editable assignment list

Another way to help them stay organized is by letting them know what supplies they will need.  Do they need only the computer or will they be printing something out?  Do they need a book to reference or is everything provided? Will they be working in  Google or on another platform like Boom Learning or SeeSaw?  Helping them to gather their supplies before beginning an assignment will only help their ability to focus and complete an assignment without interruption.

3. Don’t Be Afraid of Video

Let me be the first to say that video is scary.  I don’t like seeing myself on video or hearing my voice. But we are own worst critic.  I mean, we don’t critique ourselves or criticize ourselves when we are teaching in person.  But the thought of teaching on a video brings out something different in us and causes that little voice in our head to start talking.  
But let’s set aside our fears for a minute and think about our students.  Our students are very visual.  They have grown up in an era of video and video games and in order to grab and hold their attention when we aren’t in the classroom with them, video is our best option.  Here’s some easy video ideas that don’t feel like your standing in front of a TV camera:
  • Online Video Conference  – Using an online video conference system like Google Hangouts, Google Meet, or Zoom not only lets you be on video but also your students.  When you can see who you are talking to it sure makes video easier.  It feels less like a monologue and more like a comfortable conversation with old friends.
remote teaching using zoom or hangouts

  • Use your phone – Creating a video from your phone is definitely less scary than a video camera.  It feels more like a Facebook Live, an Instagram video or a Marco Polo message.  Just grab your phone and start talking to your students.
teaching remotely easy video ideas

  • Try a screen-sharing video – There are some amazing free screen-sharing programs you can use that will allow you to record your screen along with your voice.  Some also allow you to have a small video of yourself in the corner too.  These videos are an excellent way to teach visual concepts like math, or model how to complete an assignment.  Try Screencastify or Screencast-O-Matic for some easy to use options.

4.  Try a Flipped Classroom Model

If you have some “in person” time by means of a video conference call, try a flipped classroom model of teaching.  If you are not familiar with a flipped classroom model it is one where students “homework” is watching an instructional video.  This becomes the main teaching time – the meat of your lessons.  Then, your in person time is focused on guiding students in the application process.  You can answer questions, clear up uncertainties and help students complete assignments.    
If you are nervous about the video part – go back and re-read number 3 above.  Then don’t worry!  The instructional videos don’t have to be completed by you – although that would be ideal.  But, there are many instructional videos online that can be used to by simply providing links to your students.  Make sure to always watch the videos first to make sure there is nothing inappropriate.  

5.  Do What You Do Best – Teach

Whether in the classroom or teaching remotely, do what you do best and teach.  Use that same passion you have in the classroom for remote teaching.  Plan the same great lessons you would if you were in the classroom. Sure, some of the activities might look different, but that doesn’t mean they are any less effective in helping your students learn.

5 tips for teaching remotely distance learning

In the last year, the number of digital resources for education has grown exponentially.  As you search for activities that work well with remote teaching use search terms like “distance learning,” “google classroom,” “google drive,” and “boom cards.”  All of these will provide you with resources that are perfect for remote teaching.  

Remote Teaching Wrap-Up

Remote Teaching might not be your first choice and it will definitely be different than teaching in the classroom,  but it doesn’t have to be bad.  In fact, there are lots of great real life and technology skills that our students can learn and develop from distance learning that they just don’t get in the classroom.  So grab the bull by the horns and be the best remote teacher you can be!
Pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can quickly get back to these ideas!

remote teaching tips for successful distance learning
distance learning and remote teaching tips and tricks


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