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6 Steps to Make The Most of Virtual Learning in K-12

From kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12), students across the globe—or rather, from your school—are tuning into your screen. Although virtual learning is new in the mainstream, it's not a new concept at all. Because of this, there are already best practices in place to make the most of virtual learning. The list below contains six steps you can adjust to any grade to turn the hurdle of virtual learning into an empowering educational tool.

1. Keep It Simple

Help your students adjust to virtual learning by making the learning process simple to follow and understand. You can also take steps to simplify assignments for students who have limited access to resources. Some students may not have access to printers and scanners at home. So instead of homework, assign classwork, simplifying workload. Display the assignment on your screen during a lesson. You can then request that they submit their work by taking a photo of it and sending it to you via your email or a social media channel. Monitoring their work and who is tuned in (no more hiding in the back of a classroom) is a huge bonus.

2. Use Familiar Tools

Different tools will help you run successful virtual lessons. However, not every shiny new teleconference tool may be suitable for you. You need to determine which communication tool, portal, and assignment issuing medium will work with your teaching style and students. Choose the ones that have the best user experience and are not too technical. You'll also want to choose online tools that both you and your students are familiar with. Familiarity with the platform will make it easy for you to coordinate your students and for your students to use the tools. Easy understanding means easy adaptation to virtual learning. 

3. Be Organized

When you deliver your lessons, you should always be organized. Your lesson's flow should be smooth, and the materials you use to teach should make it easy for the students to understand and follow through. You can include hyperlinks so they may refer to various pages related to the topics you're discussing. In addition to this, to deliver the information in a way that is easy for them to understand, you will have to get creative. You can play a video or break down the information by displaying infographics, pie charts, and flow charts to them. The more organized your plans are, the faster you can respond to absent students, change lesson plans, and hybrid learning plans.

4. Clear Communication

Clear and concise communication is key to achieving your teaching goals. Make it clear to your students what you expected of them. When you assign work, let them know what they should do and when they need to submit it. If you assign them a project, ensure that they can easily understand the instructions. You may also want to contact parents or guardians and let them know you'd like them to help their kids with the project (if applicable). Also, keep them appraised of lesson plans and important dates and milestones. This way, you can create a more consistent learning environment outside of their virtual classroom. The communication between you and students' parents should stay open so they can share their feedback and vice versa. This will help you know what works best for your class.

5. Keep It Real

It is already a challenging time for students as they adjust to the new normal and learning online. There's no need to add to the chaos by complicating things. Although the move to virtual learning may be nerve-wracking and unfamiliar, don't let that change your teaching style. Stay authentic. By being true to yourself and keeping it real, you can still be the same teacher that students are used to interacting with, even while offline. Be that familiar face they're used to and do not feel that you need to deliver your lessons differently or change your persona. By keeping things real, your lessons can flow with such ease that the students will be comfortable interacting with you. You should also maintain realistic goals and be open to the fact that each student is unique. Some may catch on to virtual learning quickly, but others may need some extra help or patience for them to be at par with the rest of the class.   

6. Allow Some Room for Flexibility

There is always room for improvement. In some cases, this means being flexible. There are many ways to achieve a goal without compromising on quality. You can switch from teacher to observer by encouraging the students to lead the lesson. As teachers, we learn from our students, and you can give the students a chance to share their understanding of different topics and share their school of thought with the class. This gives the students a chance to learn from each other and also boosts their confidence in voicing their ideas. You also get to know who is confident and who may need a nudge to speak up. Plan to conduct your classroom in a different manner. Give students real examples they can relate to and understand.

Ace Your Virtual Learning Experience

As your students grow older and move from one grade to another, you may have to adjust these tips to the grade level you teach. For example, when it comes to using familiar tools, games such as the whack-a-mole game are effective for teaching younger students. Students in kindergarten can use this game for Phonics and ELA classes. However, for older students who may need more practical work in something like science, you can assign them safe home experiments.

You can make the most of your K-12 virtual teaching experience and therefore help your students make the most of it, too. By implementing these tips in your lessons and teaching technique, you can make the class an enjoyable, educational, and successful experience. Your students will have an easier time engaging the lesson, and you can help impart the knowledge they need to get to the next level.

Written by Brenda Maritim
Education World Contributor
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