Distance Learning: How I Am Managing.....SO FAR

One teacher's routine for distance learning.Now that we are on Week 3 of this new normal of distance learning, I thought I would share what is working for me, just in case it might work for you too.

To be 100% honest, I am NO expert at this.  I am probably the farthest from an expert there is.   I have had my fair share of meltdowns and setbacks.  But what I have done this past week really helped me to reign in that feeling of disorder and chaos that was haunting me.  

To begin the week, I was working at my dining room table.  The same one as my own three children.  The same one where so much other chaos was going on.  I did my very first lesson on Zoom and it was just a nightmare for me.  I was looking around for things, standing up and sitting down to get to my wall to write on the chart paper I had put there, showing books in my makeshift doc camera....it was a literal mess.  I was a mess.  Everything was a mess.  I left that first meeting feeling like I would NEVER EVER teach anyone anything because it was just a mess.
So I regrouped that night.  I remembered that I had an easel, intended for my niece, that I never returned from Christmas.  I put it together, set up a small space in my living room and created a complete space that was just mine to teach from. 

This was a GAME CHANGER.

Once I had my own space, I felt like I could breathe.  I felt like I had more control.  I felt like less of a mess.

I then decided to break my Zoom lessons up.  I dedicated TWO 30 minute blocks a day to the tech.  One for language arts and one for math.  Each block I had set up on my Google Classroom with the code for the kids to access.  I put the codes up at the top of the Classwork tab with a heading so the kids always know where to access them. 

During my lessons, I have been doing short, to the point teaching.  This week, I focused on cause and effect and polygons.  We had a short lesson, I assigned them something to do (either in their book or on a template I made for something) and they were off.    Doing lessons this way has made both the kids and I feel productive.  I am actually teaching something and they are actually learning something.  It isn't as indepth as we might find in the classroom, but it honestly isn't that far off.  The lessons are just more focused, sharp, and to the point.  No fluff.  No filler.  Just content.

Some things I have done during language arts:
Paragraph of the Week (you can get a free week here.  This is different than the free ones here!)
Read on Epic (they are offering free access for teachers and students now)
Read Aloud
Work on Cause and Effect (I will blog about that next so you can get those digital files if you need them)

Some things I have done during math:
Spiral math review (you can pick up some free digital weeks for 3rd, 4th, and 5th)
Go over math pages in our book
Angle Search (I will blog about that soon)
Create a Polygon Person (I will blog about that soon too)

Breaking up the language arts and the math has been so so so good for me too.  Again, things are short and to the point.  Nothing drags out.  I get to see the kids twice and they really are coming back for both lessons.  They use the time in between to work on things and take breaks.  It seemingly has made this distance school seem more like real school for them.  

After each lesson, I write down what we did and who was missing, just to keep track of it all.  Here is the form I am using for now.  I'm sure it will change over time, but it is working for me.  

Then, throughout the day, I check in on them working.  I have stopped checking to see if it is done though.  That was driving me crazy.  The lack of control I have over whether they actual do it was maddening.  So I have learned to let that go and just help them with what they do have.  I give feedback where they are and have stopped expecting immediate completeness.  The work is getting done.  Not necessarily on MY timeline, but it is getting finished on some sort of timeline.  The assignments are basically the same daily, so that has helped us all keep organized too.  

OK.  So that is what is working for me RIGHT NOW.  This will probably change as distance learning evolves.  But for now, I am a million times less stressed than I was earlier in this process.

How are things going for you?  What is working for you right now?

5 comments

  1. Awesome advice. I moved to my own space, but I love how you are set up with your easel!

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  2. Thank you! I really liked how you put the code for the sessions on Google Classroom. That seems better than posting it elsewhere. Thanks for the tips, and the process you went through. It has been a time of intent growth and challenge. I also had to find a place to create a teaching space, and that has improved everything. I appreciate your perspective on completion of work. These kids are struggling, anything we can do to help, is good, but don't want to add to their stress.

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  3. We start distance learning soon. We had spring break when this all started. Then our district gave us 2 weeks to acclimate before we have to dive in. Thanks for sharing your experience now I am so glad I wrangled one of my easels into my car at school today even though it was so frustrating at the time.

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  4. Great post, thanks! I am struggling with "who does what" and I am very interested in the form that you are using that you referenced in the post. The link is not working. Is there some other way you can post that, or send to me? Greatly appreciated!

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  5. Hi I have been using your blog for years. I love everything you do. Thank you for sharing calendar math. Are their answer keys? I teach 4th/5th. Also will you have 4th and 5th calendar math google slides for sale on teacherspayteachers? Thank you for all your do. Itś so helpful to look to other teachers during these trying times.Take care, April

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