With the unforgettable 2019–2020 school year rapidly coming to end, districts, administrators and teachers will have little time to take a breath and close out this year before thinking about next year. With so much uncertainty surrounding what school will look like next year, now is the time for all educators to review how distance learning went and what can be done to make the process even smoother next year, if needed.
In the article Getting Ready to Teach Next Year, the author recommends four different strategies to consider in making the distance learning process better for everyone involved.
Design for the Online Medium
This first step deals with what some of the struggles students had with distance learning and what elements of learning is best practice helping students learn. Students are looking for high-touch learning, greater interactivity, personalized learning, and more challenging activities (all of which the author explains in greater detail).
Prepare Teachers for Online Instruction
With experience gained this year from rapidly developing a distance learning plan within days (or maybe a few weeks) of schools being closed, now is the time for districts to look back and help teachers learn more about the distance learning process and best practice. Teachers will need to develop and practice these skills: direct instruction, cognitive models of learning, and social models of learning. Teachers will need guidance and strategies to help their students feel that distance learning works for them.
Prepare Students for Online Learning
As this was a new experience to which teachers had to quickly adjust, the same could also be said for students. Just as teachers need to be prepared for online learning, students also need to be prepared on what it takes to be an online learner. They will need to learn what it takes to be successful distance learners, receive technology training, and cultivate the productivity skills required to be an effective learner.
Ensure Structure and Support for All Students and Families
The district will be responsible for providing guidance to everyone in the district, ensuring that all students learn. Not to be forgotten is guidance and support for families when it comes to distance learning. Training will need to be done with parents/guardians to make sure learning is equal for all.