Educators can’t control many of the circumstances of students’ lives, but they can offer support to ensure they have the best opportunities possible to build positive attitudes and habits and encourage meaningful learning. And now that nearly all learning has been moved to remote learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, students from small or underfunded schools to the most expensive private schools need new kinds support from their teachers, making the strain on the most underserved populations even greater.
Teachers and educators are the lifelines for students who don’t have the resources or support from home. The following ideas can help teachers work from a distance with their students to get them through distance learning and prepare for life after school.
Teaching Them Time Management Skills
Learning from home can add complexity to existing challenges. Many students struggle with an empty household when they come home from school. Parents and guardians may work full-time. Some parents may be doing so remotely thanks to quarantine restrictions, making it hard to spend time helping kids keep up with schoolwork.
One of the most important skills you can teach young people is how to better manage their time and avoid distractions to get their work done. These skills are important in both brick-and-mortar and virtual classrooms, as well as post-school life.
The best plan of action is to work with parents to ensure the student’s online activity is being monitored and understood. Doing so keeps students and their private information safe and helps students learn how to schedule and prioritize their time.
It may be difficult to get parents to help, so teaching students to self-monitor their time is also a good plan of action. Help your students write out to-do lists of work or activities due for the next day before they leave the virtual classroom. Ask them to estimate how much time they believe the assignment or activity will take and to schedule it for a specific time after virtual learning hours.
You may need to give them an idea of how long an assignment takes to complete without distractions. Students can test different methods and find what works best. Older student may even use common time-management techniques, like the “Pomodoro” method.
Follow up with students on a weekly basis to see how their scheduling is going and if their time estimates have been correct. Encouraging your students to estimate the amount of time they need to work on projects and scheduling when during the day they will complete them can be tricky, but is beneficial to their growth. They may begin to understand how managing their time and working in distraction-free spurts helps them get their work done faster, so they can go back to social media or their other favorite past times.
Learning to Work Remotely
The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up the rise in remote learning and working from home. You can get your students more comfortable with the remote work concept by enriching your lesson plans with remote learning methods.
For example, find ways to carry out traditional classroom activities in Google Classroom. Or give students a list of STEM enrichment activities they can do from home. Consider conducting a live webchat or video conference with your students after school as tutoring or office hours, or as a chance for social and extracurricular activities. If your school has extended its calendar to make up for delays in prepping for remote learning or it’s a year-round school, using video chat tools can help you continue to communicate with your students, especially ones who need additional scaffolding.
Consider Household Limitations
For your low-income students, you may need to provide an extra level of support. Many may not have access to a high-speed internet connection at home. If the school or your community’s local programs don’t provide computers or tablets for low-income families, consider setting aside some classroom time so students without access to computers at home can work during classroom hours in the computer room — if you can. If not, consider tools that can be accessed on mobile devices whenever possible. However you can introduce your low-income students to the technology and process of remote work and learning gives them a leg up on the future.
Helping Older Students Prepare for Adulthood
All students need to know how to self-monitor their time and familiarize themselves with remote work and study tools in order to be successful in college and in life. They’ll be required to work independently during their college and working years and access online learning sources to enhance their studies and their careers. Teaching your students these two skills are crucial for their future.
Exploring College Options
Providing resources for first-generation college applicants so they can get ready to apply to college is another way you can support your students. Some may be worried about how they will pay for college. They may even question if they are capable of doing well, can afford the process, or even be able to attend amidst health concerns. Sitting down and taking the time to hear their concerns, doubts, and hopes can help you better understand what they need most.
Helping them to schedule time to speak with a college counselor remotely could be beneficial. The counselor can show them financial aid programs and resources for low-income college students. The information may give them hope that it’s possible to succeed in college. Working with your school’s counselors and advisors to consolidate resources and clarify guidance can be useful across campuses.
You Play an Important Role in Your Students’ Future
Every student has different talents, skills, and limitations — including many that they can’t control. Your involvement can make all the difference. Listen to your students and their needs. Patiently provide help and reinforcement. And think about how you can help them pick up life skills (like the ones mentioned above) that could serve them well past their school years.
How are you helping students adapt to remote learning? Let us know in the comments.