Educators are amazing because they do whatever it takes to teach their students, even if
it means unexpectedly adopting their entire curriculum to an online learning format. I, like many
other educators, felt completely overwhelmed at the thought of virtual learning, but knew I would
be able to tackle the challenge with the help of my colleagues. I am a fifth grade teacher from
the Waunakee Community School District, and I have learned a lot in these past few months of
transitioning to online learning. Here are some suggestions for online learning based on my
Make it a priority to underwhelm students, families, and staff. We are in the middle of a
pandemic, and it is, therefore, important to show families that we are there to support
them, not to cause them further stress. A great way to do this is to ease students into
online learning. If your goal is to have students eventually do three to four hours of
online learning per day, slowly work them up to it. Start with one or two hours. Also, try
to keep the use of technology platforms to a minimum. Commit to using Google
Classroom, Seesaw, or Schoology, but do not use them all at once, so as not to
It is important to continue to promote equity. Therefore, when possible, choose
asynchronous learning options over synchronous ones. Asynchronous learning means
that students complete assignments at times of their own choosing. Synchronous
learning means that all students complete assignments at the same time. It will be
challenging to ensure equity if students are all expected to be online at the same time.
Make connections a priority. It is always important to make connections with students
but especially right now when students may be feeling isolated. Some ways to stay
connected involve writing and mailing letters to students, sending emails to students,
and holding virtual meetings — all for nonacademic purposes. Virtual meetings could
even be over lunch. When holding virtual meetings, make sure to greet kids by name.
Regularly check up on how students are doing and be especially intentional about
checking up on students who have not interacted much online.
Work as a team. Collaborating is very important to teaching and all the more so now.
One teacher can make a video modeling a lesson and this video can be sent to all
students. Or every teacher can take a chapter reading aloud a book and make a video
to send out to all students. Working together will make tackling online learning more
manageable for educators.
5. Provide activities that students can do offline to balance screen time. Students could
write in a journal, do a science experiment at home, or do a workout in the living room.
6. Communicate regularly with parents. Parents may be anxious and will feel better if they
are kept in the loop in regard to any updates. Even if you do not have a fully fleshed-out
plan, they will appreciate knowing that there is a plan or that one will soon be
7. Celebrate. Find the advantages of online learning and make sure to celebrate them.
Students will grow in creativity, perseverance, and resourcefulness. Some students will
be more successful with virtual learning than in-person learning. Let students and
families know about these celebrations.
8. Take care of yourself. You will need to take breaks. You may be taking care of your
own children during the day. Do what you need to do and resist the urge to feel guilty.
We are all doing the best we can and that is enough.