A virtual teacher offers 6 tips to help educators move their instruction online as the coronavirus outbreak closes schools

This story on how to be a great virtual teacher, originally published on March 26, was eSN’s No. 7 most popular story of 2020. Check back each day for the next story in our countdown.

With 87,000+ schools closing, the idea of school districts moving to a digital platform has become a reality. As a teacher, you’re probably feeling information overload. Not only has your normal day to day routine of teaching completely changed, the sheer amount of tools and information to go through can be staggering.

As a virtual teacher, I promise you, this can be an opportunity to build relationships, achieve academic objectives, promote a fun learning environment, and I can show you how.

Related content: COVID-19 pushes learning online

1. Schedule out your week

Synchronous vs asynchronous: There’s been a ton of talk about synchronous and asynchronous learning, for good reason. An effective online teacher combines both synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities for their students. Virtual Teacher Tip: Have scheduled live lessons “office hours” or collaborations throughout the day at specific times, but allow for plenty of time for students to complete work in a more flexible time frame.

With 87,000+ schools closing, the idea of school districts moving to a digital platform has become a reality. As a teacher, you’re probably feeling information overload. Not only has your normal day to day routine of teaching completely changed, the sheer amount of tools and information to go through can be staggering.

As a virtual teacher, I promise you, this can be an opportunity to build relationships, achieve academic objectives, promote a fun learning environment, and I can show you how.

Related content: COVID-19 pushes learning online

1. Schedule out your week

Synchronous vs asynchronous: There’s been a ton of talk about synchronous and asynchronous learning, for good reason. An effective online teacher combines both synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities for their students. Virtual Teacher Tip: Have scheduled live lessons “office hours” or collaborations throughout the day at specific times, but allow for plenty of time for students to complete work in a more flexible time frame.

Start with a weekly schedule for yourself. (Here’s a free template from Amanda Bassett on Teachers Pay Teachers.) Virtual Teacher Tip: Time-blocking, or scheduling chunks of time for certain tasks, will net you the most productive use of your time. Do not forget important family activities, lunch or breaks. It is easy to lose track of time in the virtual world.

Post your availability and schedule in an easy to find place. Here is a simple and easy to read calendar template I use with my students:

2. Narrow down your tools

The amount of free resources, tools, lesson plans, etc, being offered has been overwhelming. In a virtual world, you’re going to need to make a few choices right out the gate. That being said, you might want to try other tools as time goes on. Just worry about getting comfortable with a few.

Here is my list of essential tools:

A landing page or Learning Management System (LMS) for your students (Google Classroom, IXL, Canvas, ClassTag, Weebly, Nearpod, Flipgrid, Schoology)
Video/Web/Phone Conferencing Service (Zoom, Google Hangouts)
A directory of student and parent phone numbers. Virtual Teacher Tip: Being in touch with parents is going to become your new normal. Parent engagement is vital in the online learning environment.

3. Build relationships

The virtual classroom might seem impersonal. In actuality this environment lends to building deeper relationships with students, because of the unique opportunity to interact one on one with them, and their families.

Here’s how to make this a learning adventure for the entire family:

Use a platform like ClassTag, where you can reach out to parents and let them know what to expect. Here are some great sample letters and Google Forms to get families started.
If you have the ability, give each family a call! Have a few ready topics to talk about and collect some information (i.e. updated phone numbers, working digital devices and working emails). Let them know what they can expect their learning to look like in your classroom.

4. Routine and procedures
source: Read More, eSchool News

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