Updated: May 2, 2020
As social distancing routines continue part of the new "norm" is online learning. Most K-12 teachers have published their curriculum online. As a parent, I am facilitating learning for the first time. I find myself interpreting lesson instructions and lesson fundamentals. Made much harder in French which is only a distant second language to me - despite my Canadian upbringing. My experience has resulted in a deep appreciation for our teachers. One I hadn't fully realized until now.
How teachers manage to teach students of 20 or more is beyond me as I struggle to help my only one.
During this time I have noticed a lot of questions and confusion on what to do and how to do it. As an E-Learning Producer, I look at this from the user perspective.
Here are 9 tips to help teachers organize their lessons, increase productivity, and reduce the number of questions from confused parents and students:
1. Consistency is key.
Have a schedule that is predictable.
Ensure communication is consistent between weekly/daily timetables and slides. Copy/paste errors can occur so proofread written instructions.
Have a consistent method of submitting homework. All uploads or all submissions created within the platform that can be "turned in". Google Classroom has a great system for this.
2. Use Videos.
I know we're not all comfortable being in front of the camera. But videos help easily convey instructions more so than written instructions. This is especially true for young learners. While the use of cell phones is fine for creating videos be sure your voice is clear and audible.
3. Provide Examples.
When assigning work, provide examples of what you would like to see and how to present it. This is helpful for parents who may not be used to the way things are done but are being asked questions by their kids.
Scan and upload a .pdf or jpg or use a tool like Loom to record video of what you’re doing onscreen. Loom is free!
When showing something on paper ensure the written content is clearly visible on camera.
Use Zoom Whiteboard as an alternative to chalkboard, whiteboard, or paper. Whiteboard is free to use within the Zoom platform.
4. Be specific.
Mention resources by name especially if using more than one resource per subject. It’s not always clear to the parent, and may not be obvious to the student either.
When uploading a new resource, link to it.
5. Add time estimates per task assigned.
Time estimates are very helpful to parents and students. Estimates help students manage their schedules and time efficiently.
6. Introduce Self-Study.
Encourage students to learn something new of interest to them via self-study. Incorporate curricular components as necessary. This exercise may be extra motivating for kids and also provide a nice break for parents.
7. Set-up Communication Protocols.
Set up simple communication protocols for students and parents. Where can parents/students go to ask the teacher questions? Create an online space for each group where the teacher regularly visits to check communication. For students, identify communication etiquette. For free-range banter students can be directed to a different area.
Set up office hours for students and parents via Zoom, phone, or email.
8. Shorter Deadlines.
Students in K-12 especially tend to get distracted easily. Short, manageable deadlines for projects can help them stay on track.
9. If using Zoom, record the session and upload it to your LMS.
Whenever recording zoom sessions, request permission from participants upfront. The age of the participants will determine the necessity of recording sessions. It is extremely helpful for parents and older students to be able to use the video as a reference. It is also useful if a participant has missed the session due to scheduling conflicts.
A heartfelt thank you to the teachers out there for all you do. These tips can reduce your workload by better equipping parents to deal with homeschooling, and by reducing the number of inquiries you have to deal with. We appreciate your efforts in teaching our kids!
If you have extra tips to help teachers, please comment below.
Simmi Behal is the Founder and CEO, The Virtual Producer. She provides virtual business services to content creators and educators. Helping people get things done so they can focus on their realm of genius. Simmi has over 8 years of experience as an E-Learning Producer. Learn more.
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