Teachers’ Top Tips to Help with Distance Learning

Education and Outreach

Image of a child at home computer doing school lesson

 

Teachers across Southern Nevada face an unprecedented task this year, with schools across Clark County School District (CCSD) — as well as various private and charter schools — conducting remote learning.

Fortunately, these educators learn fast.

After initial weeks of conquering technology and building student relationships through screens, teachers have a strong grasp of what helps students thrive during at-home learning… And what does not.

Read these award-winning educators’ insights below.

 

Elizabeth Harris, Lied STEM Academy

Harris describes the start of this school year as “challenging, frustrating, exciting and wonderful.”

While not sharing a classroom with her students feels very different, “I am thankful to be tackling this challenging year with them,” she says. “The kids are learning and happy to be back, even if at a distance.”

Harris offers the tip she deems most important: keep a positive attitude.

“The technology is not always going to work, and the internet connection will drop,” she says. “Just put it in perspective and remember that it is a temporary inconvenience.”

Her students offer an additional suggestion of giving kids a designated workspace with headphones.

The Smith Center checked in with several winners of its fifth-annual Heart of Education Awards — honoring outstanding CCSD teachers — on what they find helps students succeed in this new learning environment.

“A good pair of headphones is by far their most useful school supply of this school year,” Harris says.

 

Kari Bastin, Dr. Beverly S. Mathis Elementary School

Distance learning can be overwhelming, Bastin says, “especially when students are young and more inexperienced with technology.”

To help, she encourages families to teach children about new words and phrases they might hear, such as mute and unmute, live meeting, independent activities and charging.

“Make sure they know what these words mean, and how they can access these things on the device,” she says.

Bastin also recommends periodically reviewing procedures with children like using chat functions, connecting the camera and leaving meetings.

“Try giving your child specific feedback on what they are doing well,” she says.

 

Belisa Brownlee, Rancho High School

Brownlee encourages simple ways to prevent technology issues.

“I would ask that families not use the internet service if they can help it while the kids are in class,” she says. “Kids are constantly falling out of meetings and trying to re-enter because there is too much strain on the service.”

Don’t require students to do chores during the school day, she adds, and try not to ask too much of them after school finishes.

Brownlee encourages simple ways to prevent technology issues.

“I would ask that families not use the internet service if they can help it while the kids are in class,” she says. “Kids are constantly falling out of meetings and trying to re-enter because there is too much strain on the service.”

Don’t require students to do chores during the school day, she adds, and try not to ask too much of them after school finishes.

 

Carolyn Lara, Spring Valley High School

Lara emphasizes that while learning surrounds the computer right now, students still need to move around in the real world.

“Go outside or get away from the computer for at least five minutes, once an hour. Stretch, get water, go to the bathroom,” she recommends for students. “Your body was meant to move, and eye strain is real.”In adapting to this new learning approach, she encourages children to ask for help.

“It is a skill that will carry them far in life, and all educators want their students to succeed,” she says.

 

Crystal Massengale, E.W. Griffith Elementary School

Massengale emphasizes the importance of maintaining quiet and calm around students’ learning area at home.

She hopes families encourage their children to problem solve when challenges arise.

“Give them prompts and clues when working together at home, rather than simply providing a quick answer,” Massengale says.

 

Claudia Ahumada, Kermit R. Booker Sr. Elementary School

Ahumada emphasizes the importance of maintaining a morning routine.

“Treat your morning routines as you would if you would be going into school,” she says. “It would be best for students to take a shower, brush their teeth, comb their hair, and change into different clothes.”

As communication remains a top priority for distance learning, she asks families to help students check for messages from teachers on a daily basis.

She further encourages parents to get creative with asking about a student’s day – such as asking about what made them curious or interested, or what made them smile.

“Focusing on the positive and good in this virtual learning experience will help us all move forward with hope and determination,” Ahumada says.