Figuring out the Transition to Online Teaching
Online teaching has become the new normal for educators all across America. Multiple states have ordered schools to stay closed for the remainder of 2020. Online and distance learning are here to stay. Students and educators have a lot to figure out during this transition to online teaching and learning. On top of homework, teaching, and tests, they must also consider how to make online learning equitable for all their students.
Imagine two students who are in the same class. One has her own computer. Another has to share his computer with his younger sibling. In the classroom, these students could learn at the same pace, now the student without full access to a computer is likely to fall behind. This is inequitable education.
Equity in education is also impacted by a student’s access to the internet, their computer usage skills, and the additional support they do or do not receive, such as alternative learning mechanisms for students with special needs. These considerations have become part of a larger conversation, especially for teachers with students who are deaf, have learning disabilities or special needs.
CSD Learns’ latest series “Transitions to Online Teaching” brought together deaf educators to discuss the challenge of change. From elementary school to post-secondary, educators of the deaf are facing similar yet distinct challenges through this transition. If you are an educator, parent, or student curious about how others are navigating the switch from in-person to online learning, check our recorded webinars!
Transitions to Online Teaching 1
Panelists: Josh Mora, ASL Instructor at Boston University; Frank Griffin, LMS Consultant; Dr. Mei Kennedy, Instructional Design Consultant; Dr. John Prione, Collegiate Lecturer and Coordinator.
In Transitioning to Online Teaching, we sought to clarify the thoughts, concerns, and experiences of those who have already dived in the world of eLearning.
Topics of discussion included:
- Switching to online/distance learning (from the classroom);
- Barriers encountered;
- Considerations for educators in the new context of virtual work;
- and challenges with accommodating students.
Three main takeaways:
Flexibility is key
Given the sudden shift to online learning, it’s okay to feel unprepared and disoriented. Educators inexperienced with online or distance learning may find it challenging to adapt. Others thrive in physical classrooms where they can bounce ideas off of their peers.
It’s a balancing act.
In this new environment, teachers now bear the burden of helping parents and their students. This can lead to more stress and cause them to burn out. Communicate with your students and their parents. Come up with a plan to support each other. Break down your goals into manageable and actionable tasks. Mistakes are bound to happen, as Alexander Pope put it “to err is human.” Focus on doing what you can and practice self-care breaks. Remember to breathe.
There are resources for every challenge.
There’s an app for that! Whether the problem is limited access to the internet and devices, isolation of mainstream students, or lack of educator tools for online learning. Resources are available to address all of these issues and more. For a comprehensive list of tips and resources check out our previous blogpost. Also, visit CSDLearns.org for a list of resources included in the webinar.
Transitions to Online Teaching 2
Panelists included: Stacy Eilibert, K-12 teacher at California School for the Deaf in Fremont; Nia Lazarus, a 4th-grade teacher at California School for the Deaf in Fremont; and Kent Turner, Gaming Coordinator from National Deaf Center.
In this Transitioning to Online Teaching webinar, educators share advice and resources on how they navigate online and distance learning in the K-12 sphere.
Topics of discussion included:
- The importance of self-care;
- The pros and cons of synchronized teaching vs. self-paced learning;
- Progress tracking;
- and students with additional needs.
Three main takeaways:
Take care of yourself.
Taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health is the best way to maintain your wellbeing during this period. Taking time out of the day to go outside or even modifying how you teach online can be of support. For example, Nia Lazarus limits her video time with students to twice a week, which decreases the screen fatigue she and her students feel. This allows her to give more time to those that need additional support and encourages the independence of those that want it least. Modifying how you teach online can make a big difference in your wellbeing. Plus, take a few minutes each day to go outside and get some Vitamin D!
Equity requires creative solutions.
Some students are without access to the internet or devices. Some students have special needs and cannot learn online. Some students learn best in classroom settings. Some students don’t have homes. The list goes on. E-learning is not a one size fits all solution. Many students are getting inadequate to no education during this time. Educators are coming up with creative solutions to support their students. For example, teachers of special needs students are mailing manual worksheets or activities to their students to complete. This is one type of creative solution that can help teachers reach students unable to learn online. For the time being, creativity and going the extra mile are going to be necessary until schools reopen next year.
Everyone is still figuring this out.
Educators are doing their best. They are learning as much as they are teaching. This is new for a lot of people; it’s ok not to have all the answers. Be accepting of what you can control and what you can’t control. Be open to continuing to learn as much as you can and sharing what you know with others.