Step 3: Ongoing Support
Congratulations! You have successfully launched your lessons online. That was a big feat! The next step is to ensure appropriate support options are prepared. As an educator, students and parents are looking to you as an expert, even if you’ve never taught online. Put yourself in their shoes to determine what support and resources they need. Preparing and sharing resources can help them feel supported even though you aren’t there to help in person.
Frequent Two-Way Communication is Important
Now more than ever, it is important that parents are taking an active role in their child’s education. Establishing open communication with parents early on will help to reduce frustration and ensure students are not falling behind. Be sure your contact information and availability is shared in multiple places and that you have parents’ phone numbers and email addresses. Make parents (and students) aware that you welcome feedback, questions, or concerns.
A quick way to get feedback and collect it all in one place for analysis is to send a survey through a tool such as Google Forms or Survey Monkey. While open-ended questions can be helpful, limit those and use rankings or multiple-choice instead to get feedback you can summarize and act on quickly. A survey also can save you from getting multiple emails with feedback allowing you to more easily consolidate the information.
When you do get emails, try to respond as fast as possible, even if it is outside of your normal working hours, especially in the beginning of this transition. Consider taking note of commonly asked questions and creating a FAQ document, or creating your own quick video tutorials using your phone or webcam. This may help reduce the number of emails you receive from parents and provide them with quick answers to their questions.
Take care of yourself, too. Make sure to take breaks and have downtime away from your computer and phone. Keep in mind that parent and student communications may increase and may happen beyond normal “school hours.”
Cover the Basics
Even if online classes have been launched, it is not too late to offer an online orientation. Start providing parents with a plan for each lesson or unit covered to give them a sense of what to expect and how they can help. Next, provide parents with tips for successful online learning. This could be an ongoing list that is added to as you gather feedback from parents.
Online Class Orientation Ideas
- Use a tool such as Screencastify to record your screen as you walk families through the online classroom.
- Help parents and students understand how to use the technology needed.
- Share resources to help learn the tools.
- Include how to view and navigate through the content and how to submit assignments.
- Add more videos as needed.
A “Parent’s Plan” can include the following:
- Information not usually shared with students to guide the parent in the lesson. (Think of the “Parent’s Plan” as being similar to a teacher’s lesson plan.)
- Ways parents can engage their students in the content, check for understanding, and give their students feedback.
- Indications of where students should be able to complete a task or assignment alone and where they may need help from a parent.
- Clear designations on what is most important for students to complete if they have limited time.
Here are some examples of tips that may be helpful for parents:
- Create a schedule, but veer off when needed. Change it if it isn’t working.
- Set up a designated workspace to reduce distractions and have supplies handy.
- Communicate with teachers if you feel your child needs additional support.
- Take note of when your child is getting restless or in need of a break – take it when needed; get outside or do some exercise so they can go back to school work fresh.
- When school work is done…have fun! Explore your child’s interests and remember to take time for yourself!
Resources for Special Circumstances
Special circumstances will arise as no two learners are the same. Some students may move quickly through the curriculum while others may require alternative outlets to better understand class lessons. Additionally, parents may need a “break” and want to keep their kids engaged in a meaningful way. The following tips and resources can help:
- Consider providing parents with a list of videos or movies that align with lessons.
- Take a virtual field trip.
- Try fun online fitness classes.
- Explore art and music.
- Resources by subject and grade-level:
- Language Arts
- PK-5: National Geographic Kids – Highly interactive resource that explores a variety of topics for younger students
- PK-5: Minecraft: Education – Open world game that promotes problem solving
- PK-12: American Association of Chemistry Teachers – Chemistry activities for students of all ages
- PK-12: PhET – Math and science simulations
- Social Studies and History
- PK-12: Smithsonian Kids – Activities and games for all ages on a variety of topics
- PK-12: National Geographic – A variety of activities for all ages and all subjects. Professional development for teachers is also an option.
- 6-12: Historical Thinking Matters – History resource that helps students read critically
- 6-12: Big History Project – Multi-disciplinary resource that explores the history of our Universe
Work Ahead and Make Revisions
While students are working asynchronously and you are not answering emails and phone calls, take some breaks, and also include some planning time. Work to get further ahead of your students with more content. Reflect on what you provided, what you have learned, and what you want to change. Review what you already created and make revisions based on feedback and questions. This work can be used to support students in the coming months and for future purposes.
Missed the other steps or need a refresher in the Navigating the Journey to Teaching and Learning Online series? Check out the other steps below:
CourseArc was built as a tool and team to support organizations as they build online content. Check out our resource site to see how we can help your team. Check back to our blog and social media feeds for additional resources and case studies on how our clients are using CourseArc to move their classrooms online.
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