Many of us are remote learning at the moment. If we’re not, we may well be in the future. This strikes me as a good time to distil our learnings and reflect on how we can make remote learning:

  • As impactful as possible
  • As inclusive as possible
  • As supportive as possible to learners, teachers and parents
  • An opportunity to strength and deepen learning muscles and build independence

In Learning Pioneers, we collaboratively reflected on “Lockdown Learnings” and used them as a launchpad to create ever-more meaningful remote learning experiences for our learners. 

Our reflections so far

Using the thinking routine, “Think, Puzzle, Explore”, we shared the following things we “think” we noticed/know about remote learning:

Routines are as important online as they are in class. 

Sticking to learning routines helps children gain independence. We talked about building a familiar structure into different online lessons and how different formats could promote deeper learning. Ideas include:

  • Setting pre-reading or watching to discuss later in a “live” call
  • Using “thinking routines” in particular to stimulate deeper learning and collaboration
  • Building in a time for “well-being calls”, giving children the time and space to troubleshoot together. One teacher has created an “URGGH” time when her students can share something that is worrying or annoying them. She shared that opening up this discussion often flipped these “urgh moments” to positives as the children problem-solved ways through these “worries” and also pulled out the learning from them.

Families reported feeling even more deeply part of their children’s learning and the school community during lockdown.

Isn’t that amazing? Could we have predicted this before lockdown hit? Learning in remote spaces actually strengthened some relationships and deepened connection. Of course, this wasn’t the same for everybody – And this was part of our “puzzle” thinking – How could we amplify this and make this the experience for all families?

We wondered, what could the positive implications of building these connections be? How can we capitalise and build on this once we are back in school?

Social contact and collaboration are even more key to make remote learning impactful and meaningful.

We shared creative strategies for children to share learning with their friends, including “online shared study rooms” and Zoom rooms to combine thinking routines and sharing of ideas. We also talked about using our “what went well” end of day routine from Adrian Bethune’s “live” in our community as part of our online learning routines. This could be part of a “closing circle” or reflection of the week.

Teacher well-being is top priority.

It is extra-hard to take care of ourselves and our teams during a “crisis” – The temptation is to try to do more, try to solve “all” the problems – We reflected on how this wasn’t a useful strategy and we had to find ways to prioritise our well-being more than ever.

We talked about using collaboration within teams to share workload in creative ways. We talked about clear boundaries for teacher contact time being key. For example, giving clear guidelines to parents as to when teachers would be available online to answer questions; balancing recorded content with “live” lessons. Also, many noticed that keeping the remote learning systems simple and gradually building them up supported the manageability of work.

Coupled with this, and relating back to our “live” with Adrian Bethune, we remembers strategies for self-care, including gratitude journals, exercise and time with family

Remote learning created new and exciting opportunities for teacher collaboration.

We talked about using “chat” functions to share ideas and best practice quickly and effectively. Interestingly, we noticed that the sharing of ideas was even more rich and flowing during lockdown.

Teachers found ways to support and learn from colleagues, such as collaborating on creating video content, building ideas together and gaving one another feedback – It was a great time to share best practice.

Thinking forward ….

We discussed many more ideas that we are developing over the next term also. Two areas we will dive into moving forward:

  1. Our “puzzle” section – the bits we haven’t figured out yet! We will grapple with these together and find collective solutions
  2. How to strengthen and amplify learning power during remote learning. Many of us were doing this naturally – we are keen to unearth the strategies we are all using and make them visible so we can all learn from one another. Ultimately, this will mean our home learning programmes are the most impactful, empowering and meaningful they can be. In fact, some of us reflected on how results, independence and learning-to-learn strategies had improve and gone up during lockdown. We put this down to having planning a learning curriculum rich in open-ended inquiry, involving parents fully in the learning process (so they could also use strategies and learning language at home) and the children having space to plan their own learning/timetable and approach to remote learning.

As I mentioned, we used the thinking routine, “think, puzzle, explore” to dive deeply into these reflections and findings (thanks to Mark Church and Ron Ritchhart’s training with Chapters’ International and our shared read of “The Power Of Making Thinking Visible)- 

What do you think you know about remote learning?

What is puzzling you about remote learning?

What ideas can we share and explore as solutions?

You could use this with your teams to develop your own sharing of remote learning ideas.

Of course, we don’t have all the solutions yet. But that is part of this wonderful, ever-evolving journey called being an educator.

I wonder which of these ideas will impact on practice back in the classroom too …

Would love to hear your own thoughts and reflections.

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