As school closures increase in the wake of the coronavirus, we’re partnering with our Teacher-Authors to help administrators, teachers, and parents support student learning remotely. 

In these unprecedented times, teachers are stepping up to the plate in powerful ways, and doing everything they can to keep their students on track from afar. But the practice of distance learning — either online or on paper — is new territory for many teachers and presents a whole new host of new challenges. How do you keep learning structured? How do you generate material for students to work on their own? How do you stay connected to your students? If you’re asking yourself these questions, this post is designed specifically for you. Here are seven tips from experts in the TpT community to get you started:

How to keep learning structured 

  1. 1. Make a schedule. “Parents will feel overwhelmed with how to help their children while school is out,” says Teacher-Author Create-Abilities. “Outlining the activities to be completed, along with approximately how long it should take, will be helpful in guiding your students and their parents.” 
  1. 2. Set a routine. “Keep in mind your students will be craving and desperately needing routine. If you create, buy, or share something for your students to do, try to keep it the same,” advises Teacher-Author Just A Primary Girl. “Changing options daily can cause anxiety. Particularly in our special needs students who thrive on routine. So set a routine schedule. When students know it comes from their teacher, they are more likely to not fight parents.” 
  1. 3. Define a set of expectations and norms. If teachers are teaching online, Science With Mrs. Lau recommends creating a set of expectations for student behavior online and they should use the first remote class to discuss these. “Students will need to know how to mute and unmute themselves, use nonverbal hand signals to indicate agreement or disagreement or that they have a question or that they need to use the bathroom,” she says. “Teachers can help their students and their online classes run smoothly with expectations set from the beginning, just like teachers do at the beginning of the year.” 

How to provide students with materials

  1. 4. Create digital and print versions of materials. “Many of our students don’t have internet access at home,” points out Teacher-Author Laura Randazzo, “so the materials need to be able to be not only posted on our password-protected websites or sent as email attachments to the parent contact list, but also gathered into a photocopied packet that folks can pick up from the front office. It’s a pain, but it’s what’ll need to happen to ensure equitable access.” 
  1. 5. Keep activities simple. “Do not try to assign month-long projects or lab activities to complete at home. Provide reading passages, guides or videos (such as how to tackle math problems) and assign worksheets,” says Teacher-Author Stephani Elkowitz. “These activities are easy for students to work on at home and in many cases, parents can assist students when they are having trouble.” 

How to stay connected

  1. 6. Set up a private Facebook group with your class. “Go live once a week to read aloud a story and model reading strategies,” says Teacher-Author Brenda Tejeda. “Your students will LOVE to see you ‘on TV’ and it’ll give parents a guide for how they can also use reading strategies with their children.” 
  1. 7. Give your students a way to stay in contact with you. “Have them send you videos or pictures of what they’re doing!” writes Teacher-Author Marsha Mcguire. “They are going to miss you and you’re going to miss them.”

More from the TpT community 

Looking for more tips and information from TpT about distance learning? Check out this round-up of strategies and a note from our CEO on what TpT is doing to support teachers nationwide.

Keep an eye on the blog and TpT’s social media accounts, where we’ll be continuing to publish more tips and resources on distance learning!

Teachers, do you have more ideas, resources, or experiences for supporting students in alternative learning settings or circumstances? Share them with us here.