What a spring! We have worked alongside so many teachers responding and adjusting and revising our remote teaching in an effort to meet learners’ needs this spring. The first thing I want to say is, “Wow! You are amazing!” In these past few months, you showed the world that you are solid gold. As a parent and an educator, I am ever so grateful. Well done.
In our collaboration with schools and districts coast to coast, we have opportunities to lean in and learn with folks serving in all sorts of environments: rural, urban, historically underachieving, language learners, those troubled by trauma, as well as high achievers. While remote learning looks different in every now-virtual classroom, there are some features consistent to those settings where students are finding success: instruction, interaction and independence. It takes all three to make this teaching and learning from a distance really work.
Instruction: While traditionally much of our instruction happened face to face by us modelling out loud in front of the room, the shift to remote learning has nudged many of us into new modalities: we may teach live on video, record videos, refer students to the videos of others, direct learners to reference materials, write out instructions of our own, deliver information via telephone…The list goes on, as so many teachers are finding creative ways to keep teaching. And our students need us to do just that: illuminated the content, demonstrate the process and lay out a path to success. Even when we are not face to face, we are seeing, we all still need to keep finding ways to teach.
Interaction: In a typical school setting, interaction happens all day long – in the hall, as learners enter class, during our lessons and every transition, students are talking with peers and adults about their learning and their lives. Still now, learners need this from us – chances to touch base about what is in their minds and hearts. These interactions have transitioned to new formats: video conferences, email exchanges, social media interactions, blog responses, Flipgrid presentations, sidewalk chalk messages, letters mailed, phone conversations, or even chats from a distance in a school parking lot. During remote learning, students need interaction with their teachers and also with their peers in order to feel connected, engaged and valued.
Independence: Parts of every typical school day is spent on solo work time, and remote learning can also be structured to promote and invite independence. This might involve reading or writing on one’s own, watching a video, solving a math puzzler or engaging in a broad array of projects. Consider the ways you can sandwich independence with instruction and interaction. While independence is certainly the goal for all students, too much of it can be lonely and unmotivating.
As this pandemic has upended so much of what is familiar, it has also shown us what is essential in many areas of our lives. As I work with teachers, I see what is essential for us to be effective now (and perhaps always): each learning experience needs to include instruction, interaction and independence in order for our learners to prosper. I invite you to reflect on incorporating these three I’s as you complete this school year and plan for the unknowns of the next. Keep it simple, and keep teaching!
To learn more about supporting students’ success during remote learning, please join us for the Phenomenal Teaching Symposium, June 18, 2020.