5 Tips for Teaching Online in Primary Classrooms

1:57 AM

              The school year is about to start up again for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere.  Some you may already have started teaching already.  Most of us experienced some sort of online teaching last Spring when everyone went into Covid 19 Lockdown.
              Back then we were thrown in with very little warning.  It was stressful, and it was confusing for everyone involved.  Parents, students, teachers and administrators all felt like we were in over our heads. So while most of us have a big of time to prepare for the upcoming year, I have a few suggestions to help make things go a bit more smoothly at the start.

Think about how you want the kids to behave and what you think they could possibly do to distract other learners, then write down your expectations.  Things you might want to think about are technology, behavior, and classroom management. For example, if you don’t want a child to eat while you are teaching, stop your lesson and let them go and put the food away.  They can eat after you are done teaching. 

I have a free editable file that you can get by clicking here to help you with this.   Use your first class to go over ALL the expectations of kids.  Then review the expectations at the start of every online lesson until the kids all seem to understand them. 

2.        KEEP IT SIMPLE:
I know we love our jobs and we want to do interesting and creative lessons, but at the start just keep it simple.  Set out a clear schedule and routine and stick to it!  Make sure you are giving clear instructions with a small set of steps for the kids to follow.  You can also post next week’s schedule on Fridays so kids and parents can be prepared for the next week.  Whenever you are planning, think of how you can keep it simple until everyone is used to online learning.

In the Spring we were thrust into online learning with little preparation.  Learn all you can about your LMS (Learning Management System – like Google Classroom or MS Teams).  Take the time now to explore your options so you are prepared when classes start up again.  This will not only give you the tools to be a better online teacher, but it will lower your anxiety about learning new technology.

4.       BE AVAILABLE:
Once school starts kids and parents will have questions.  They will need to communicate with you.  But set clear limits on how and when.  For example, decide ahead of time what time in the evening you stop responding to emails.  Ways you can communicate include email, an online message board, or weekly online office hours.

5.       BE FLEXIBLE
I know, I know, as teachers we hear this phrase all the time!  But remember that many parents are anxious and uncomfortable around new technology.  You need their help, so think of ways you can be flexible.  For example, try to teach the children how to use the technology independently.  I found that in the Spring, some kids couldn’t access the online learning without their parents’ help.  How can you help teach them to do it independently?  This might take longer than you think but stick with it. 

Also, think of ways you can work with kids who are chronically late for every meeting.   How will you facilitate that?  I like to start with a group game for the first five minutes, and then get on to my lesson.

And finally, try to send as few emails as you can.  In the Spring parents were bombarded with emails from the school, the district, the ministry, and the teachers.  I know this because I have two school-aged kids of my own.  It is overwhelming.  Consolidate your information into one email and try to be concise.   Be flexible.

So, there you have it.  I am a very experienced teacher with almost 30 years in the classroom, but I am a total novice when it comes to online learning. Or should I say I WAS a novice back in March when online classes started in my district.  Now I would say I am competent, but still easily overwhelmed.  This year will be different. I urge you to sit down and plan out your online learning routine now and be consistent in using it once school returns. 

If you would like a free copy of my editable Online Classroom Routines just

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