Distance Learning Plan - Guidelines for Adults
Adults play an important role in supporting students as they transition to and engage in distance learning.
Guidelines for Adults Supporting Students' Distance Learning
Adults play an important role in supporting students to engage in distance learning. Teachers and caregivers are the key players in this support role. Guidelines in this section are intended to offer reminders and suggestions for these partners in supporting students’ success.
In the transition to distance learning, teachers are asked to think and work differently than they have in the past. Their underlying compassion, creativity, and perseverance are the traits that will most lay the path to success in this Distance Learning Plan. The following guidelines represent reminders to help our teachers thrive in this new environment.
1—Health and Wellness First
In this time of pervasive and tangible health risks in our community, keep the health and safety of your students and yourself in the forefront. Be aware of rising stress or concern among your students and adjust your expectations to accommodate developing needs related to personal illness or the need to assist an ill family member. Communicate with school counselors and administrators when you have concerns and be mindful that mandated reporter guidelines still apply during school closure.
This guideline goes for yourself, as well. If you recognize that you are becoming ill or have a need to support a loved one, proactively connect with your teammates to ask for their temporary assistance in continuing the learning supports for your students. Employees are encouraged to connect with the Employee Assistance Program to explore additional resources available.
2—Keep It Simple
Working and learning in an altogether new way can be overwhelming. Teachers are reminded to prioritize the most essential learning concepts for direct instruction while pacing to allow for a balance of review, practice, and new content. These measures can help to prevent frustration and stress for both you and your students.
3—Recognize New Potentials
Over the past few years, FCPS teachers and curriculum specialists have made concrete strides in aligning classroom instruction to Portrait of a Graduate attributes. The lifting of standardized testing requirements and school accountability in spring 2020 offer rare opportunities for students and teachers to reprioritize expectations in a way that ensures distance learning interactions and assignments reinforce Portrait of a Graduate and social emotional learning outcomes.
4—Identify What Distance Learning Tools Are Available for Your Students
With efforts to distribute technology and internet connections for those without, many students may have access to a computer and the internet. However, bear in mind that some students may not. Get to know the access for each of your students and adjust your model for connecting and supporting learning accordingly. Leverage a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities that take advantage of the resources available.
5—Focus on Feedback
In any learning environment, growth-producing feedback is essential to helping a learner move to their next level. In a distance learning setting with the loss of many nonverbal clues, articulated feedback can become even more critical to make clear to a learner what strengths and opportunities you see in their work. Utilize the media at your disposal to offer oral or written feedback as frequently as possible. Feedback may take the form of comments on a submitted assignment, journaling, phone calls, or video chats.
Remember that the purpose of assessment is to help the learner understand what they have mastered and where they need to keep working. This purpose can be attained through informal assessment in a distance learning environment by applying a focus on feedback, much as a formal assessment administered in a school setting would attempt to do.
The shift to distance learning comes at a time when families are already experiencing a disruption to their routines and priorities. While distance learning may offer welcome structure and connections with others that are likely missing in the disrupted environment of school and business closures, the transition will be challenging. Like teachers, caregivers need to think differently about how to support their students.
The Virginia Department of Education offers suggestions for caregivers to support learning at home in the resource, COVID-19: A Parent Guide for School-Aged Children. In addition to these recommendations from the state, the guidelines that follow represent considerations for caregivers in helping students thrive in this new environment.
1— Health, Safety, and Family First
Be mindful of your child’s stress level and any anxiety related to world events or their own change in routine. Also, keep in mind that your child is sensitive to the stress and anxiety they perceive in you. If illness in your family makes it difficult for your child to participate in distance learning, be sure to share your situation with your child’s teachers. Teachers can help to work out a plan that is supportive of your immediate family needs while providing the level access to continued learning is reasonable for your child.
2—Set Aside Time and Space
We encourage families to establish a physical space, if possible, where your child can participate in distance learning during the day. Across grade levels, there are scheduled times when students are expected to join their teacher or class in a distance learning activity or a check-in. Your child may need your help to be available for participation during these times. Consider how you can help maintain a sense of routine for your child, including expectations for wake up times and bedtimes that work for your family. Your child should take periodic breaks as they study.
3—Stay Connected to Your Child’s Teachers
Teachers communicate with caregivers through email or phone on a periodic basis. These check-ins let caregivers know how students are progressing and give additional insights into their learning experiences. However, keep in mind that teachers are responsible for outreach and engagement with many students and their families. If you have a question or concern about your child’s learning, don’t hesitate to initiate contact with your child’s teacher.
Set expectations that your child engages in some form of physical exercise each day. Exercise will help your child maintain their health and development. This is vitally important to their health, wellbeing, and learning. Teachers recommend some physical activities and exercises for students as part of distance learning instruction, but it is also important for caregivers to model and encourage exercise. It may also be appropriate to think about how your child can help with additional chores or responsibilities at your home.
5—Monitor Screen Time
FCPS does not want its students working at computer screens for 7-8 hours a day. We ask that caregivers remember most teachers are not yet experts in distance learning and that it will require some trial-and-error before we find the right balance between online and offline learning experiences. Feedback from caregivers is an important part of this process.