Learn 6 absolutely essential tips to help you conquer distance learning.
Normally, this is the time of year when you would walk into a store and see pencils, notebooks, backpacks and other school supplies on sale in preparation for the big day. Social media timelines would be flooded with teachers decorating their classrooms and parents taking pictures of their child’s first day of school. There would be an overall sense that summer has come to a close and that it’s time to get back into the swing of reality, but this school year looks very different for everyone involved.
My assumption is that if you’re reading this article, you have become a “distance learning” teacher – congratulations! Some of you are excited to dive in and roll up your sleeve and others are counting down the days until they can quit this new job. If you fall into the latter category then keep reading to get tips on how to make the most out of distance learning for you and your child.
1. Get Organized. At this point you have to know that I’m going to tie everything back to organization – it’s who I am! The first way to make your life a little easier is to be as organized as you possibly can before starting on this journey. In our school district, instructions are outlined very clearly for students and those who are supporting them. Tasks and assignments are logically outlined and explanation is given for why students are asked to complete things in the requested time frame. To prepare for your new role as a distance learning teacher, carve out between 20-30 minutes at least one week before the start of the school year to read over material. Also, most school districts still require children to have supplies, so don’t forget to pick up what they need.
2. Create an Environment for Learning. Most of us have heard the statement “you are a product of your environment” and it is so true! I believe that children (and adults) need a designated environment to complete their work. Growing up, I had a small desk set up in the corner of my room where I did my homework and I knew that when I sat down it was time to focus. Obviously, things are much different now than they were back then because you can literally work from anywhere, but the concept remains the same. When you set up an area for your child that is meant for work it can change their attitude and ultimately have a positive effect on assignments.
3. Set a Schedule. I’ve heard a few people talk about their distance learning setup and how they plan to operate exactly the same way that the school operates and let me tell you – THAT WON’T WORK! I understand that the intention is good, but there is no way that you can do that because guess what…you’re not a full-time educator. Set a schedule that works for you and your lifestyle. If that means having your child log into one class and then taking a 30-minute break to clear their mind before the next class then do that. If there is a packet of work to complete, set up “work blocks” of time throughout the day to get through a little each day, but whatever you do please don’t wait until the day the assignments are due to get started.
4. Be Flexible. Things happen. Plans change. Schedules slip. Even if you are the most organized person on the face of the planet who schedules everything down to the minute, there is a 100% chance that something will not go according to plan and that’s okay. Distance learning is new to nearly everyone and it will take time to find the things that work for your children and family.
5. Talk with Teachers Often. Communication will be the tool that you rely on most during this new way of life. It won’t be enough to sit through a Back to School night or a parent-teacher conference once a semester. Parents will need to switch seats and take a more active, hand-on approach to navigating their child’s education. So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do? You ask the experts! Talk with your child’s teacher to make sure that they are on track and that you aren’t missing out on anything. Chances are that teachers can provide you with a wealth of information, tricks and tools that will help tremendously!
6. Connect with Other Parents. You are not alone in this journey. There are millions of people all over the globe who are facing the same challenges as you and it’s alright to reach out and ask questions and share stories. Join a support group online or through social media, talk to parents in your neighborhood (while maintaining social distance of course 😊), or check to see if your child’s school has resources available for parents.
At the end of the day, this is all new territory for everyone involved and we will get through this together. Take a deep breath and remember that you will be defining and redefining this journey as you go along. If you liked this article and would like a quick sheet to remember these tips, click the link below and check out the free printable!
Best of luck