ISP Distance Learning Guidance Tips
Despite the temporary closure of our school buildings around the world due to COVID-19, learning and teaching continues through our distance learning approaches across International Schools Partnership (ISP).
Our students, families, teachers and staff have seized this opportunity to continue to learn and get better together. We are extremely proud of the adaptability and commitment of our professional passionate educators and our community across the world in making the transition to Distance Learning. Already we have witnessed exciting and innovative approaches to distance learning as well as many initiatives to support our children and students wellbeing, keep their spirits up and help them to stay motivated as they continue their amazing learning journeys at home.
We know that these exceptional circumstances are a change for our educators, students and their families but change brings opportunities as well as challenges. We want to support each other through these challenges as best we can.
These are exceptional circumstances. Many of us are still in the process of re-establishing routines at home for school and work and are trying to adjust to the ‘new normal’.
Emily Porter, Group Director of Learning and Education at International Schools Partnership comments:
“These are exceptional circumstances. Many of us are still in the process of re-establishing routines at home for school and work and are trying to adjust to the ‘new normal’. Whether you’re a leader, a teacher, a student or a parent, we are all learners right now and we need to support each other as we engage with the new skills required to learn and work from home. Never has it been more important to put learners and learning first – and we have to include ourselves, as well as students and families – in this group. With patience, focus and togetherness we can help each other transition and get better at distance learning and working with more resilience and success than perhaps we believed we could.“
Our highly experienced Learning & Education professionals have established an effective distance learning strategy which includes supportive materials and resources to assist our schools wherever they are in the world. They are designed to ensure consistency of learning whilst schools transition to a Distance Learning model and continue to get better of over time.
We wanted to share some general guidance to support other schools, educators and their students and families during this unsettling time. Our team have put together some general distance learning guidance tips to support the wellbeing, connectivity and inclusion for students, teachers and families. We hope they will help you navigate the transition through these uncertain times, give support to teachers and families and enable students to continue their learning at home.
Distance Learning Guidance for Students
- Establish a daily routine for learning – create a timetable
- Identify your learning space(s) – are you comfortable, focused and ready to learn? If not, what can you change?
- Minimise distractions – ensure the environment helps you to focus on learning. Turn off alerts, social media and other devices
- Focus on one thing at a time – our brains don’t like multitasking!
- Take regular breaks – get active and move, eat healthy foods, stay hydrated
- Actively engage with learning activities and assignments – be aware of expectations for your learning and due dates
- Get social and share – collaborate with your classmates and support each other’s learning
- Reflect on your learning – take notes, record voice memos, journal, blog, sketch it out – capture key learning points, ideas and questions
- Apply your learning – take learning offline to review, practice and consolidate
- Self-assess – recap, review and revisit your learning over time to help it stick
- Ask for help, support and feedback – from your teacher, family and fellow students
- Give feedback to your teacher – so they can get better at supporting your learning online
Distance Learning Guidance for Families
- Establish routines and expectations for learning at home – create a timetable together and review this at the start of each day – what, when, how and where will they be learning?
- Define physical space(s) for learning with your child – ask them what kind of environment best supports their learning and be mindful this may change depending on the learning they are engaged in
- Get actively involved in your child’s learning – ask questions, show curiosity, help them to process their thinking, inquire together
- Support your child’s wellbeing – talk openly about any concerns they have, make sure they take regular breaks, build physical activity into the day
- Create guidelines for online safety together – including time online, general e-safety etc.
- Support online collaboration – make sure your child has access to support from their friends and classmates
- Monitor communication from the school/teachers – provide feedback on your needs, experiences and ideas, and make sure you know who to contact if you have any questions about your child’s learning
Distance Learning Guidance for Teachers
- Continue to put learners and learning first.
- Reflect on your role as an online learning educator – how can you make distance learning a good struggle for students and their families?
- Consider your own working and learning needs – moving to distance learning involves learning for everyone! What tools or systems can support you through this transition? Think about your own routines, timetabling, flexible working spaces and wellbeing.
- Design inclusive online learning experiences – consider different contexts and needs, create opportunities for personalization, remove barriers to learning for students and their families, consider accessibility (languages, devices, WiFi etc.).
- Design for synchronous and asynchronous learning – nurture relationships and collaborative learning by being in the same online space at the same time, and design opportunities for offline learning and reflection. Provide times when you’ll be available online for real-time learning support.
- Ensure planning and resources have a clear focus on learning – design with learning-focused features in mind, such as emotions and motivation, attention and engagement, assessment and reflection, sharing and connecting, practical meaning making and pacing and spacing
- Follow guidelines from tech support – regarding which platforms to use, recommended file types and sizes etc.
- Think creatively about how to assess the quality and quantity of learning taking place – use online tools like quizzes to check knowledge, rubrics to support skills practice and online collaborative projects or journaling for understanding.
- Provide clear instructions – do students know what is expected of their learning, how to access resources, when they should be learning?
- Be explicit about timings and pacing – this helps students and parents to manage home learning time. Provide time for reflection.
- Provide timely feedback about learning – ensure students know what to do to get better, how to do it and when to do it by. Be mindful that learning online may require more time.
- Create online routines – check in with students at the start and end of each day – this helps to support the transition and a sense of continuity.
- Monitor students’ wellbeing – beyond the learning, how are they coping with the transition, what additional support do they need?
- Communicate often – with students, parents and each other, actively monitor communication channels for questions and feedback.
- Ask students and their families for feedback – what’s helping or hindering their home learning? How can you get better at supporting them?
- Connect and share with your colleagues – get better, together – remember, you’re learning too, so the principles above apply to your own learning!
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