Distance Learning Toolkit for Teachers
Breck's Distance Learning Philosophy
At Breck, we believe learning occurs in the context of caring relationships and academic challenge. During an extended school closure, we believe in maintaining that context, which we refer to as personalization and press, to the greatest extent possible. The goal of distance learning is to maintain continuity of our personalization and press. Because Breck offers a community of preschool through 12th-grade learners under one roof, we believe that maintaining this continuity will allow us to resume on-campus learning and relationships with ease.
It is important to recognize that we are not intending to recreate the physical classroom in an online space. We must admit that the unique environment of our classrooms and our school cannot be replicated online. An extended school closure means that time and space have fundamentally shifted for our learning environments and we must reframe our methodology. Teachers are in the position to fully explore who they are as online educators.
There will be moments of great success and joyful interactions and there will be moments of frustration and overload. That is how we learn.Every challenge is an opportunity. We encourage our faculty to approach distance learning as an opportunity to leverage digital tools, iterate on creative approaches, and enhance the excellence that already exists in their classrooms. In doing so, we will be best positioned to provide students with learning experiences that promote engagement, support social interaction, and allow for meaningful feedback.
This toolkit offers Breck faculty the information necessary to ensure academic progress during an extended school closure. By combining this information with their own unique teaching strategies in an online culture of community, teachers can provide meaningful instruction and ensure students remain engaged in learning.
Finally, this toolkit is intended to be comprehensive, and we will continue to add resources as we learn together, but it is not intended to be the sole method of support. We have a team of educators and a host of learning opportunities at the ready for our faculty as they embark on what is for some an entirely new way to teach, and for others, a shift of how we use technology. In fact, you should think of the toolkit as a menu of resources. You wouldn’t order an entire menu at once at a restaurant, so you shouldn’t expect to use all of the resources in the toolkit at once. Choose what works for you, work collaboratively with your teams, seek the support of those you know to be ahead of the curve, provide support to those who seek it. You know, do what you usually do for each other.
This is Breck’s Distance Learning v1. We will build on our amazing legacy, respond to your feedback and make adjustments as needed. We will get better with v2 and every iteration of this work. We are here to support you!
Focus on connections before content. We talk a lot about personalization and press. That ethic is equally important in distance learning. Many students have already developed great online connection skills. Learn from their example. Encourage them to share ways they are successfully connecting.
Less is more. This is the most consistent advice from schools around the world who are weeks ahead of us on this journey. Focus on the core standards that will prepare your students for next year.
Approach April 1 like the first day of school. Start the first week with less content and more connection. Give yourself permission to start small. Focus on building community, setting norms, checking in on each other and laying out your plan.
Be flexible. "Distance learning is like design thinking. Don’t go for perfection with the first iteration. Communicate often. Launch the minimal viable product. Iterate based on feedback." @watnunu
Balance. Just because you are teaching from home, it does not mean you never leave work. Set specific office hours.
Look for ways to personalize learning and assessment. Give clear directions, so students can get started and on their own and then find areas to engage more deeply with the content. Follow your students’ creativity.
Engage students right away at the start of the lesson with an opening question or activity that helps them focus on the content. Make sure that the work you are assigning to students is work they can manage on their own with limited parent support.
Lead with empathy for your students, colleagues, and the situation.
Members of our faculty and staff have curated a variety of resources to support you and your family during COVID-19 and through Breck's Distance Learning. To learning more and access links, reflections, and ideas for your family, click the link above.
If you have a question with Veracross/classroom access, need assistance connecting/signing in, or require support on a Breck-issued device, please submit a trouble ticket, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. A member of our technology team will respond to your needs as soon as they are able.
- What are some quick do’s and don’ts for online instruction?
- How do I plan an online lesson?
- How should I communicate with students?
- How do I post announcements to my Veracross class page?
- How should I schedule my weekly check-ins with my advisees/homeroom students?
- How can I keep our classroom community connected?
- Q: Whom do I call if I need help during distance learning?
- Q: I’ve never taught online before. How can I get up to speed?
- Q: Do you have tips for working from home and supporting my children during distance learning?
- Q: Will teachers be taking attendance during synchronous learning?
- Q: Should students wear their uniforms during synchronous instruction?
If you’ve been on social media you’ve probably seen the memes and images people are posting as we engage with this new “working from home” reality. There are also a ton of amazing resources for educators being shared. This document is a testament to all of the great work that others are doing.
Get out there and connect with Breck colleagues and with other educators.