Teacher’s Lounge Blog

Learn more about teacher preparation, test tips, online learning, professional development, and a variety of other valuable teacher topics.

Inclusive Learning in the Online Classroom

October 14th, 2020 | Comments Off on Inclusive Learning in the Online Classroom | Inclusive Teaching, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

There are a variety of challenges that face students in the online classroom environment, not the least of which are reliable internet access and a decent computer. Teachers can create the best lesson plans ever but if the children do not have these important implements, then both teachers and students are often wasting their time.

Another critical issue in our currently ever-changing school scenario is reaching all students and creating an inclusive online classroom that meets students of every ability level. This is challenging enough in the in-person classroom setting but requires much additional thought and preparation when classes meet virtually.

There are several strategies that educators can follow to help themselves and students make the most of the learning opportunities this format and create an atmosphere of respect and positivity.

  • Clearly outline your expectations for all aspects of the online classroom, from attendance to participation, assignments, evaluations, and deadlines. Model appropriate and inappropriate responses, provide examples, and provide relevant feedback.
  • Evaluate every lesson to ensure that it meets guidelines for all types of students. Consider varied content delivery methods, closed captioning, how and when feedback is provided, easily readable instructions, accessibility, etc.
  • Language and content should be suited for a diverse and multi-cultural audience.
  • It often requires more effort to connect with students in an online format. Timely response and feedback tailored to each student individually is more inclusive than a quick “good job” on an assignment. Schedule virtual “office hours” when students can contact you for a chat via your school’s chosen online platform.
  • Flexibility is critical. Your great idea for a lesson may not work with your students. Have several options available and be prepared to “shift gears” if needed.
  • If you feel you are a little “rusty” when it comes to inclusion strategies, sign up for a professional development program like Prepforward’s Online K-6 Inclusion Course, which can be beneficial in the physical classroom as well as in an online setting.

It is likely that we will continue to adapt education guidelines across the country as the year progresses and into the future. Remaining mindful of what is best for the students we serve ensures that whatever our classrooms look like, that we meet the needs of all students regardless of background or ability level.

 

7 Tips to Increase Success When Taking Online Classes

August 31st, 2020 | Comments Off on 7 Tips to Increase Success When Taking Online Classes | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Whether you are taking online classes this semester as part of continuing professional development or are teaching online and virtual classes because of the pandemic, there are some strategies to help you and your students be successful.

It may take some extra effort, self-discipline, and motivation. No one disputes the fact that learning and teaching this way is an adjustment for everyone. Follow these guidelines to make the process proceed more smoothly.

  1. Create a dedicated workspace to complete online work. This could be at home at the kitchen table, at a library computer station, or in a corner seat at your local favorite fast-food restaurant. Ideally, the area should be as quiet as you can get it or at least have a minimum of distractions so you can concentrate. Plan study times around family and work responsibilities.
  2. If you have the option, start slow. Taking one online class rather than several, until you get used to the format, is the best scenario. If you do not have any choice, break studying into small, manageable chunks rather than sitting for hours in front of the computer to (hopefully) prevent burnout.
  3. Manage your time wisely. Use an online or physical planner to denote study times, assignment due dates, and other commitments.
  4. Take advantage of student resources. Consult an advisor or counselor, visit chat rooms, or contact your instructor, if necessary. The resources are there to help you.
  5. Organize your work, both in a planner and by creating folders on your computer. Keeping everything in a specific place keeps you from losing it or forgetting about it.
  6. Become familiar with your computer and the learning platform your school uses. Have a reliable resource for computer-related issues – they always occur at the most inconvenient times!
  7. If you do not understand an assignment, ASK your instructor about it. Most professors are happy to help you and would rather you ask than have you do poorly on the work.

The first time you teach online or take an online class can be a challenge, but it is not an insurmountable one. Follow our recommendations to make it easier.

Employ these Creative Strategies for Distance Learning

July 24th, 2020 | Comments Off on Employ these Creative Strategies for Distance Learning | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

While some school districts have made their decisions about how school will look this fall, others are still working hard to offer the best scenarios for families, teachers, and students. It is likely that few people will be satisfied with whatever option they must follow.

What is certain is that educators will do everything they can to implement as many learning strategies as possible to ensure that they cover the required material and that students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of key concepts.

Here are just a few techniques to consider if some or all your instruction is relegated to online delivery.

  1. Start class each day with a 10-15 minute “warm-up” activity or question that involves two or three students sharing about themselves and what they are doing at home with the family. Questions can be light-hearted or more thought-provoking.
  2. Provide frequent feedback via email, highlighting both positive and negative comments about student work, attitude, diligence, etc.
  3. Screen sharing is beneficial for teachers and students, both for completing assignments and addressing technical issues that may arise with computers in general or the specific platform your district utilizes.
  4. Permit side chatting between students if the instructor can monitor the conversation. Some students have become more comfortable contributing to class in this format as it does not require them to “speak up” in front of others. Students enjoy it when the teacher participates, too.
  5. Prepare innovative assessments for individuals and groups that are interesting and fun.
  6. Develop a closing activity each day for each student to complete. It could be a simple form with questions about the lesson, a chat between students or groups, or a discussion that the class has about a given topic.

There are dozens more ways to actively engage students online. Note that these methods can also be utilized in an on-ground setting, as well.

No matter what form your classroom takes this semester, having a plan ensures that you can meet the needs of all your students.