The Dos and Don’ts of Teaching Online

It’s a whole new world.

teaching online

With such a rapid shift to online school, there were bound to be some mishaps … and lessons learned. We turned to our community of teachers to ask what they’re learning themselves about remote learning. Here are our favorite dos and don’ts of teaching online:

DO: Be prepared.

“Make sure you have good lighting so your students can see your face clearly; face an open window or put a lamp next to your laptop.” —Scoon

“Check your background for anything you don’t want to be visible in the video, or blur it if possible.” —Cara

“Have a practice child who will log in and check links to make sure they work.” —Beth

“I always send my students some activities to print in advance so they’re not looking at the screen for the whole lesson.” —Viral

“Make sure you clear your web browser before you do a screen share video.” —Erin

“Start your meeting with everyone muted and ask them to sign into the chat box by answering an opening question (like a drill and you can take attendance this way also).” —Christina

“Hit record on all live webinar sessions. Tell the students and parents their session is being recorded, too. This will help them refer back to the video if they forget what you reviewed in the session with them.” —Todd

DON’T: Overwhelm students.

“Assign way less work than you think you should. Students are going to take much longer to complete it due to tech issues, stress, and the challenge of having to learn mostly on their own.” —Greta

“Give them less than a normal in-class day. They’re going to be relearning how to schedule and manage their time so they’ll be overwhelmed.” —Skye

“I found using the chat box helpful for kids to type ‘Q’ if they have a question, and ‘me’ rather than raising a visual hand.” —Lora

DO: Collaborate.

“We’re lucky that kindergarten this year has five teachers, so we each take a designated day and write up the lesson for that day and share with the rest. That way we have a full week, and since we worked together, we know it will flow with what the last person did.” —Kyoko

“Reach out to your community partners. A lot of internet providers are providing free internet to students right now and many are even supplying laptops and tablets.” —Emily L.

DON’T: Make assumptions.

“We have to take into account that a lot of kids have other responsibilities when they’re at home: other classwork, chores, helping with siblings, etc. It’s not like when they’re in our class and we have them for that allotted amount of time.” —Emily L.

“Understand that some students haven’t gotten the district access they were supposed to have to do their work.”—Sarah

DO: Build community.

“I’m giving my students social time before class starts so that they can catch up with friends, show them their cool stuff, and be silly.” —Angelica

“I do a daily question that is more meaningful to my students so we can start conversations. Discussions and building relationships were a big thing in the classroom.” —Emily S.

DON’T: Expect perfection.

 “Be patient. You may spend some time looking at their nostrils as they try and figure this out.” —Gregory

“Remember that connections do break, especially if you’re trying to remain online for an extended period of time, like an hour or more. Don’t be surprised when it happens, but just take it as being a normal drawback of teaching online, like having a bee fly into the classroom.” —Rick

DO: Give some grace.

“Allow yourself (and of course your students) plenty of grace. Many students have taken on additional responsibilities to help out at home. Many of us teachers have, too. Be mindful!” —Jennifer

“Our students are under a lot of stress just like we are. Just like this isn’t a vacation for us, it’s not a vacation for them. They are scared.” —Emily L.

“Laugh at yourself and make mistakes. The kids need to know you are still the same person.” —Dawn

What lessons have you learned from teaching online? Come share in our WeAreTeachers Helpline group on Facebook. 

Plus, The Next Weeks of Online Learning Don’t Have to Be Perfect.

Posted by Kimmie Fink

Kimmie is an editor at WeAreTeachers. She has 13 years of classroom teaching experience and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

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