Transitioning to Online Teaching: A Changed Landscape in Education
Half of U.S. elementary and high school students are only studying virtually this fall. Online learning may be the new normal for educators all across America, but many still have a lot to figure out. The transition to online teaching and learning has been smooth for some and complicated for others. In addition to lesson planning, understanding the technology, accessibility, and engaging students, educators, have to ensure their students have an equitable learning experience.
Over the past eight months, educators have been acclimating themselves to online teaching. However, the growing pains are far from over. Educators as much as students are grappling with new digital platforms, apps, tools, and tricks that they’ve never encountered before. They are learning alongside their students, which can cause everyone to feel overwhelmed.
Additionally, social-emotional learning has become the elephant in the room. Students unable to socialize with their peers may also be dealing with a lack of communication in sign language at home. Student well-being impacts attendance and performance, which has added another component of consideration for online educators to address.
CSD Learns’ latest series, “Transitions to Online Teaching,” brought together two Deaf educators to discuss their experience thus far, helpful strategies, and advice on adapting to this unprecedented challenge. Parents, teachers, and administrators of Deaf students are all in this together. Learn how you can better support your students’ learning and social-emotional needs on – and offline in our video below.
Panelists: Jessica Madsen teaches K-8 technology, HS Digital Journalism, and HS Digital Video Editing at Pheonix Day School for the Deaf; Scott Madsen teaches Technology, Web Development, and Digital Graphics at Phoenix Day School for the Deaf.
Moderator: Jeanine Pollard, Digital Learning Developer at CSD Learns
In Transitioning to Online Teaching, we sought to clarify the thoughts, concerns, and experiences of those who have already dived into the world of eLearning.
Topics of discussion included:
- Getting comfortable with teaching online;
- Effective virtual lesson-making;
- Building your virtual instruction skills;
- Addressing student barriers;
- Building relationships with students and parents;
- The next semester of teaching;
- and advice for struggling educators.
Three main takeaways:
Online learning is a marathon, not a race.
The most important advice for every educator is to get comfortable with the tools you have available. Teach your students step-by-step and reiterate as needed until you and your students have established a routine. Try not to introduce new tools and resources right away, as you will be required to dedicate a significant amount of time to make sure they know how to use it.
The first week, I focused solely on teaching my students how to log in. Then getting them acclimated to google classroom and making sure they had a good grasp of the technology and apps. It took about a week, but it was important to build a routine around this because the one thing students lack right now is structure. Doing this helps give them some of that back, and we haven’t deviated from it since.
Constantly check-in, reach out, and engage.
You might have seen many of your students lying about in a dark room on your zoom screen. Your students’ inability to connect and socialize can be devastating, especially for Deaf and hard of hearing students who do not have access to sign language or any communication at home. Continue to check-in with your students and make yourself available as much as possible for them to reach out to you. Find ways to keep them engaged by incorporating interactive components into your lessons.
My zoom screen is always open, and I am available for discussion and questions. My list of objectives is not more important than my students’ connection with me. Many of them already don’t have access to sign language at home. Spending time with them is worth it.
You’re going to have to go the extra mile every day.
There is a vast difference between teaching online and in the classroom. Students can quickly get bored, discouraged, or distracted. Studying from home presents many new challenges for everyone, including parents who are not technologically inclined to support their needs. Consider recording each of your lessons and making them available for students and parents to access at any time. Create time and space for students to share their concerns with you. Make sure your contact information is easily accessible for parents to contact you. Add in breaks for you and your students to move around and regain some energy. Be open, available, present, and engaged.
Take it step-by-step. Don’t overwhelm yourself with many tools. I use Google Classroom, Flipgrid, and Vimeo for now; I encourage teachers to progress slowly with tools. Zoom fatigue is real, so also remember that it is important to take breaks.
My gears are constantly turning, so I have to remind myself to breathe and that teachers across the country are in the same position as well. Be sure to check-in with your students often. Remember, We’re all in this together. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t let what others are doing on Instagram or social media stress you out.
Educators sure have a lot on their plate. Make sure you are taking care of yourself too! For more advice and resources, go to our website www.csdlearns.org/resources.