Losing the Automatic: Teaching in distance learning

New Student Orientation from the “ beach”

Three weeks into our school year, we are beginning to settle into the rhythms of distance learning. While there are some advantages to this format, the transition to distance learning has been exhausting. One of the primary reasons that distance learning is so draining is because we have all had to learn so much to make it work. Nothing is automatic this year.

It’s been reported that teachers make up to 1,500 decisions each day. Many times in a classroom the scenarios are so familiar that the decision is almost automatic. If you sense that a student is not engaged, you can go stand next to him/her while giving instructions, if a student looks lost after the instructions have been given, you can have a quick 1:1 conversation to clear up the confusion, if a student doesn’t know how to tackle a project, you can get out the stickies and write the first three steps on three different stickies and have the student work through the stickies one-at-a-time. Many of these are automatic moves for veteran teachers, but we have lost most of our automatic moves in the distance learning environment.

Until we build our automatic moves we are relying on some guidelines that help us make intentional instructional decisions in this environment. Below is first draft of what we are considering our student learning modes and the associated instructional decisions for teachers.

We are still constructing our charts and encourage you to take time to do the same. These at least give us something to continually reference until we build up our muscle memory for distance learning.

Hang in there, we have entered education because we get excited about learning, and we are all learning so much this year. Yes it is exhausting, but it’s not forever, and we will have more tools in our toolkit when we are on the other side of this.

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