1. Share Learning with Families: Families were more connected than ever to their kids’ learning during the lockdown. They were our co-teachers, and they looked to us for guidance. From now on, I will try to keep them informed. I don’t have much time, so I’ve streamlined my methods for informing parents.
If you don’t have Schoology, I recommend using another app or two for quick updates. I also used Remind for quick reminders about field trips, etc. Parents can message you during school hours, so you don’t need to share your phone number. Having a private Instagram account to share photos with families could also be fun. If you don’t have time, ask a parent volunteer to manage the account.
2. Integrate Technology: Kids are fast learners of technology. During the lockdown, I used Seesaw and Zoom primarily. They figured it out faster than I did! Our technology tools should continue to be a resource for learning in the classroom. We only had two iPads in my classroom last year, but I found ways to integrate them daily for all students.
3. Safety Online: Whether you use a lot of technology in the classroom or not, students will likely use it at home. Sometimes, parents forget to reinforce online safety with their children by talking with them and limiting access to sites and videos.
I made it a point to talk with my students during Morning Meetings about what they think it means to be safe online. We discussed being kind on Seesaw when commenting on our classmates’ photos and drawings. We talked about finding kid-friendly YouTube videos. We also talked about not spending too much time online. The discussion can be fruitful!
4. Extra Practice: I always tried to offer additional academic practice when teaching remotely. When school was back in session, we had a policy of optional homework. Many times, parents asked me for extra practice on the weekends. It shouldn’t be hard to find additional practice without making it yourself!
5. One-on-One Check-ins: I felt disconnected from my students during the lockdown, so I planned to meet with each student one-on-one or in a small group every few days. I made a simple list in Google Sheets to record how often I had met with them. Now, while at school, I don’t usually make a list, but I try to make a point to interact with each student one-on-one every day. It could be as simple as a handshake at the classroom door in the morning, checking in during writing or math practice, or playing a game during choice time. It’s a small thing that can make a considerable difference regarding positive behavior and rapport.
6. Use Visuals: During remote learning, I used Google Slides every day. Last year, my school did not have Smartboards or big screens of any sort. We rarely used whole-class technology in the lower grades. However, I wanted to maintain the visuals that resonated with my students during the lockdown.
Our brain breaks became the highlight of the day for many students. Brain Breaks can be anything you want them to be, anywhere from less than a minute to 5 minutes. You can use a song that kids dance to, do a freeze dance with music, or have students get up and move with a quick activity. I recommend keeping students in one central meeting place and clarifying your behavior expectations at the start so it doesn’t get out of hand!