What can teachers do that would be the most beneficial in a remote education environment?
With workload pressure from all angles, plus the increased anxiety of being permanently online, schools that encourage their teachers to focus more on forming ‘stronger relationships’ with their students should profit more in (online) classroom environments.
What can teachers do to help?
One of the most important things teachers can do to support students remotely is to make sure the virtual classroom offers them an environment that meets their needs, including some privacy to communicate how they are feeling.
I’ve had a closer look at the latest TeacherTapp research and it is clear that schools working in a disadvantaged context will be finding delivering live lessons and/or remote teaching much more challenging than most!
Here are 3 tips to ensure that students feel comfortable and welcome in your online learning environment.
1. Keep calm
We know some students struggle in surroundings that are too noisy or cluttered. This will be exactly the same in an online environment and to a degree, something a teacher may or may not be able to control.
When presenting remotely, teachers should try to make their resources (workload depending) as simple and as free of distractions as possible. In essence, less is more – delete, delete, delete!
Teachers should also make sure there are plenty of pauses so that students have ‘take up time’ to process the information. More than anything else, establish a clear routine and framework for students to support the emotional aspects of learning which will be more heightened during COVID-19, and in an online world.
2. Be clear, literal and precise
For teachers who are remote teaching, particularly those with cameras turned off (on the teacher or student side), there will be less cognitive support without any visual cues. For whatever reason, students will struggle to understand the full context in a remote environment.
Teachers must be crystal clear in their instructions and avoid any non-literal language, even when your meaning will be obvious to most students in your class. Teachers can also try using visual cues or symbols for any key instructions.
Some teachers will be familiar with the Dual Coding strategies to support cognitive load.
3. Be consistent
Make sure your students are clear about what behaviour you consider acceptable. A teacher’s online classroom rules should be communicated explicitly. I suspect most schools will have this covered with one year into COVID-19, but just in case:
- Any consequences for breaking online rules must be consistent – and must apply equally to all students.
- Whatever your school policy and behaviour rules stipulate, you must adapt policy and apply it individually to each student as and when required, particularly with those who have additional needs or are vulnerable.
- It’s certainly not easy, but having an online code for behaviour will help everyone!
You can discover more of these ideas in my research from schools across the UK and how they can be adpated to an online world.