Communicating with your students
Set clear expectations of how and when you will be available to communicate with students.
- As much as possible, stick to the means of communication that you usually use, e.g. school email or Google Classroom.
- We strong advise against giving out your personal cell phone number or using social media platforms that are not set up by your school.
Make sure to have clear boundaries set around the amount of time you are interacting with your students. When you are available will vary depending on your personal circumstances, but some possible options include:
- Having "timetabled hours" for each class
- Trying to be available to answer your students questions anytime during normal school hours
- Telling your students to expect an answer within 24 hours
Maintaining teacher presence when distance teaching
If you have been predominantly a face-to-face teacher you will be used to connecting with students regularly in a multitude of ways: be that in the classroom - direct dialogue or eye contact or even just by physically being near them as they work.
Just as with face-to-face teaching and learning, students learning remotely also like to know that you are there (even if they are not directly engaged with you). They also appreciate responses to their queries in a timely manner Some ways you could be present are:
- share a fun fact, motivating meme, subject-related puzzle or saying/proverb/whakatauki
- check in with a short pre-recorded audio or video (maybe at the start of each week) just about how things are for you, keep it positive and not too detailed or personal
- share tips for staying well/organised – link them to your subject perhaps
With all of these suggestions, don’t put pressure on yourself to do everything at once – you could try one new thing a week and use it across a number of classes as you get used to it. You might repeat those that seem to work for you as often as makes sense (there are no rules for this!).
When work comes in sometimes a simple response might be all that is required with an indication of when you can get back to them.
Types of lessons
When planning your lessons where possible set tasks that can be completed to varying degrees of success with more complex and additional tasks for the most able pupils. Or set more open-ended, independent work, but structure and guidance will still be needed. Tasks that require little or no access to technology are preferable in order to cater for everyone.
Feedback: Keeping the learning conversation going
You probably already have a range of things you consider when giving feedback to your students on their work. Supporting them to continue with what they are doing well and giving them some advice on what they could do next are key.
Hattie and Timperley sum it by saying that the purpose of feedback is to “reduce the gap between where the student is and where he or she is meant to be”. Some useful questions to ask/answer by the teacher and/or student are:
- Where am I going? (What are the goals?)
- How am I going? (What progress is being made toward the goal?), and
- Where to next? (What activities need to be undertaken to make better progress?)
You might find it helpful to talk to your students about these three questions in relation to their learning. Perhaps provide them in a format that can be printed off so they can help provide a focus for the learning at all times.
We’ll provide more advice and suggestions for other things that might help when giving feedback over the coming weeks.