In response to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, my company, Konica Minolta, has taken a vigilant stance to support social distancing, and was very early in responding as an organization to protect our employees and our community. So I am now adjusting to a new work reality at home with my family. Last week, our children’s schools initiated their temporary closures, making it our first official week of remote learning while working at the Nguyen home. Mr. Nguyen, a high school drop-out prevention specialist, has adopted the role of lead teacher, while I have taken the role of teacher’s assistant since I have a less flexible remote work schedule. I have been researching how schools across the country have responded to the need to maintain instruction during school closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I have compiled a list of 5 practical tips and suggestions to maintain a successful remote learning experience during this time.
- Keep it Simple
Use tools with which most teachers, students and parents are already familiar. Learning a new EdTech tool can be stressful under normal circumstances, let alone during a time of much confusion, stress and anxiety.
Schools should audit the resources they have already adopted and think of ways to utilize them to deliver instruction and communicate with students. By using what’s already available, school’s education technology coaches can provide general guidance in using the tools in a new way and will not have to spend as much time introducing teachers to new tools.
Something that would be helpful to parents is providing a central portal or page where students can use single sign-on to access all their educational sites and apps. If that’s not possible, post a list of all the apps each grade will use along with directions.
- Keep it Mobile-friendly
Approximately 19 million Americans (6 percent of the population) still lack access to fixed broadband. 96 percent of Americans own a cellphone of some kind and 81 percent of those are smartphones. If your school or district does not have the capacity to lend devices such as Chromebooks and tablets to students, try to use tools that work well with mobile devices. This will improve access to online materials.
- Keep in Touch
My youngest daughter’s first grade teacher used ClassDojo regularly prior to the school closure to communicate and share pictures. Now she is regularly posting learning resources and recordings of her reading story books. My daughter, who loves her teacher, enjoys hearing and seeing her on a regular basis.
My twin daughter and son’s fourth grade teachers have been communicating regularly via email. They have been very honest about where they are in their technology learning process and have shared they will be advancing their skills through the guidance of the school district and a district technology coach.
Keep in contact with your Professional Learning Network (PLN) as well. Whether it is a district wide forum, Twitter or another venue for sharing and collaborating, the best way to get through this period is by sharing our ideas. Why recreate the wheel when you can learn from others?
- Keep it Real
I attended ISTE’s Technology Coordinators PLN Webinar, “K12 Instructional Continuity and COVID-19” led by Patricia Aigner and Rushton Hurley this week. They both emphasized that remote instruction and learning is not intended to mimic a traditional school day. Our students are dealing with diverse needs and situations where for many of them, losing their one place of security puts them more at risk than before. Teachers should keep these students in mind when creating their lesson plans. Many of our students will need time to process this new reality.
Patricia made one point that really hit me hard as to the seriousness of this pandemic. We don’t know who will fall ill or die from COVID-19. We should be careful not to make promises we can’t keep to our students. As much as I don’t want to think about it, we should consider the possibility that we might contract the virus and become unavailable to our students.
- Keep it Separated
As a teacher who cares for his or her students, it might be hard to separate work life from personal life, especially when you are basically trapped at home. Set a time for teaching your students, teaching your own kids, being a spouse/partner/family member and practicing self care. Create a basic schedule for you and the household to develop a routine. If you have children, they will especially find comfort in knowing what to expect each weekday.
Take care of yourself the best you can: take breaks, walk around, stretch, drink lots of water, call your friends, send funny GIFs to your peers.
Be kind to yourself. You deserve it.
There are so many lists of resources flying around that it can get overwhelming. I wanted to share with you three organizations I have benefited from by joining. These organizations have been hosting webinars, posting resources on forums and engaging in lively discussions on Twitter. If you haven’t already, I suggest joining your local ISTE affiliate.
If you are on Twitter, I would love to connect with you and learn from you. Please connect with me @mrsjudynguyen. And for any and all help with your remote learning needs, Konica Minolta and All Covered are here to help.
For more information on remote learning tips and tricks – watch our recorded virtual event on G Suite and Office 365.
 Eighth Broadband Progress Report, https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/reports/broadband-progress-reports/eighth-broadband-progress-report
2 Mobile Fact Sheet: https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/mobile/#who-is-smartphone-dependent
3 K12 Schools Preparation and Response to COVID-19, ISTE PLN Webinar: https://tinyurl.com/March2020-TCPLN