Module 1: Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of ourselves as educators is critical in order to develop and deliver learning experiences that are not only engaging and impactful but transcend time and space. Supporting our own social and emotional needs will make us more successful in our role as teachers and will help model for our students how to prioritize your own needs to persevere through uncertain times.
Module 2: The First Days of School
The beginning of the school year, in any environment, is full of new-ness and anxieties. No matter where we are teaching and learning it is our duty to cultivate norms, develop routines, make our students feel welcome and supported, and generate an overall classroom management plan suitable for any learning environment. While distance learning does force us to think outside the box on what planning for the school year looks like, and is subject to change at any given time, one constant that remains unchanged is our skillset to teach and adapt to the needs of our learners.
Module 3: Teacher-Student Relationships in Virtual Classrooms
Human connectedness lays at the framework of successful learning and successful teaching. Learning is amplified exponentially, as proven by data-driven evidence, when students build and maintain positive relationships with educators. Now more than ever we need to exercise empathy, exude warmth, encourage critical thinking, and more to create a physical, virtual, or blended classroom that supports each and every student.
Module 4: Teacher Credibility at a Distance
When our students believe that they are able to learn from us, that is when they succeed. Building credibility as an educator stems from trust, competence, dynamism, and immediacy. When we bring forth our tangible passion for teaching and learning into the classroom our students can more confidently learn and ask questions about the materials we teach, while trusting in us to guide their education.
Module 5: Teacher Clarity at a Distance
Teacher clarity is a vital ideology to implement in any mode of schooling. Students must be able to identify what they are learning and how they will know that they have learned it (at an appropriate time in the learning model). The three main questions at the framework of teacher clarity are malleable in nature and will allow us to cater distance learning experiences that are impactful and engaging anywhere.
Module 6: Engaging Tasks
As the term “achievement gap” is permeating conversations during pandemic schooling, we must call into question the role that behavioral, cognitive, and emotional engagement plays in any sort of “gap” in learning. Our work and the tasks we assign to our students in a virtual or physical classroom must foster growth and critical thinking, and create opportunity for connection, discussion, and interaction. When our students are not engaged in the tasks they are completing, they become dissociated from their learning.
Module 7: Planning Instructional Units for Distance Learning
No two classrooms or students are alike in nature, and thus there is no universal model for generating the “perfect” instructional units for distance learning. The evidence-based examples embedded in Module 7 will allow you to generate a personalized plan that taps into demonstration, coaching, facilitation, collaboration and practice that can be altered to align with the needs in your unique classroom.
Module 8: Feedback, Assessment, and Grading
The connection between feedback, assessment, and grading is pivotal to a successful classroom. Assessment drives feedback, and grading is determined by performance on said assessments. These pieces are crucial in the determination of what is and is not working for our students and is now shaping what impactful teaching looks like in a virtual or blended environment. There is also great value in the feedback provided from student to teacher, as we are all still learning to navigate this “new normal.”
Module 9: Learning, Distance or Otherwise
How can we take what we have learned during distance learning and apply it to all modes of learning moving forward? The start of distance learning was difficult and trying, we had to recalibrate at lightspeed to bring what we know about teaching and learning to a world outside the physical classroom. During this time social and emotional elements of learning were highlighted, as was the importance of our partnerships with families. Additionally, we learned how to weed out learning strategies that were not universal in effectiveness. These experiences, though challenging, helped shape enormous growth for teachers and students and will continue to be a key element in the way that we teach and learn for years to come.