Summer Planning for Educators: Tips for Moving Online
As the majority of Florida’s education system transitioned online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, much focus has rightly been helping students cope, both academically and emotionally. However, teachers who teach in a traditional classroom setting have also made the transition, in emergency conditions, and require support.
We know engaged teacher-student interaction is important to parents. To help that interaction continue, FLVS has tips to help teachers manage their online classroom, with tools they can use when they return to their normal classroom setting.
With so much uncertainty due to the pandemic, it is easy to get anxious and overwhelmed. The most important thing for parents and teachers to remember is the emergency nature of schooling during this pandemic. Being required to go online, much as schools might after a hurricane, creates unique challenges for teachers and families that are not part of a typical virtual learning environment. Rather than a real virtual education situation, teachers have been providing remote crisis learning. Understanding that distinction can help teachers and families manage their expectations.
Online learning involves a full and robust curriculum, with teachers providing live lessons and being able to truly teach. During an emergency situation, everyone – parents, teachers, students – is dealing with so many concerns. Also, though teachers have transitioned admirably on such a quick timeline, they understandably do not have the training and tools necessary for full online education. We can’t expect teachers or students to accomplish what they would under normal circumstances. That’s okay.
FLVS teachers offer these tips for helping teachers manage their virtual classroom:
Go back to basics
Phone calls should always be the first choice for communicating with students. While the majority of Florida families have at least one computer or some form of internet connectivity, there are families who do not have access. However, data shows nearly all families have a phone. If a family or student is not replying to email or submitting work, teachers should call to check in.
Create a digital bulletin board or class site
If the school or district has not provided a platform for this, teachers can use Google Site, which is easy to use and uses drag and drop templates. Google’s clean design looks professional and provides most of necessary features. YouTube and Google have a variety of tutorials on how to use Google Site.
Put technology to work
Apps such as Skype, Google Meet and Zoom have face-to-face video call options that work on a smart phone or computer with webcam. For high school teachers, meet students where they are: on text message. By using Google Voice, teachers can text and take calls from their computers, making typing and dialing easier.
Work with your teaching team
Google products are free and make remote collaboration easy. Teams can create folders in Google Drive where documents can be stored, shared and edited.
Host live virtual sessions
Both Google and Zoom have audio and video capabilities that will allow teachers to maintain the personal touch with students and help students feel more connected.
Help students submit work virtually
Unless a school or district has provided a Learning Management System (LMS), Google Forms is the easiest way for students to submit work. Teachers can customize forms to create assignments and track student submissions. Student responses can be viewed as a group, individually or even export as an Excel sheet. There are options for control how long a form is open, which is useful for assessments. The Excel export feature allows teachers to create an Excel book that doubles as a virtual grade book if needed.
People are often surprised to hear the different ways FLVS offers students to connect, but whether in traditional school settings or online, it’s important for Kindergarten-12th grade students to get involved outside of taking classes. Quarantine makes it challenging, but it can still be done.
Here are a few options:
- Play classroom games
FLVS teachers use Google Slides to link slides together when kids or teachers click on them. A few examples include the Matching Game, Jeopardy, Escape Room, and a subject-related game board, such as “Calculus Land.”
- Hold student club meetings online with a scheduled Zoom call
Setting the meeting to private and sending the links to club members only.
- Host a Spirit Week
Have students take pictures or videos in their school colors or shirt and submit. Finish the week with a Zoom “pep rally.”
- Work with community partners on virtual field trips
Connect with local first essential organizations, like a fire department, and take a virtual tour.
- Have an Online Career Day
Bring in guests to speak about their job experience.
For more tips and resources, teachers can also visit the FLVS Online Learning Community at www.flvs.net/community.
Teachers can also join the conversation with other teachers through our LinkedIn group and share ideas and best practices to prepare for next school year.