Remote Learning – Student Perspective: 3 Things That Make a Difference

Remote learning presents new challenges and opportunities to everyone involved: teachers, students, and parents. Students with learning differences, including ADHD and dyslexia, are especially susceptible to struggling with the new online format.

In this installment of Real-Life Experiences with Remote Learning, our eighth-grade correspondent describes a day of distance learning that went pretty well. From her description, we can highlight three things that make remote learning more engaging and successful.

My first class today went better than a lot of the other classes I’ve had.  What I really liked is that, instead of just keeping us in the dark about what would happen in the next three weeks, this teacher made a video that showed us the plan of what we were going to do for the next three weeks.  And, after that, he gave us a survey that asked what we might want to do with this time.  Another thing I liked about this class is he recognizes that not everyone finishes at the same speed, so he offered an activity to do at the end of class if you had already finished everything else. 

1. Clearly articulate expectations and the agenda for the class 
The teacher laid out not only the agenda for the day, but for the next three weeks. This helps students understand the expectations, the connection to learning, and the ‘point’ of it all. The teacher also used this as an opportunity to help students reflect on how they wanted to use their time with a built-in expectation that students will navigate remote learning tasks at their own rate. This lays the foundation for successful time management, for both the students and the teacher.

Next I had math, a class where I was basically giving up. Today, me and my friend video called, and I got my Dad to come and help us. Even he had trouble with the problem, and he’s an engineer and is “pretty good at math”, or so he says.  After that we had a video call with our teacher but I’m still not hopeful that my questions will be answered. 

2. Help students learn how to ask for help
Understanding how to ask for help, as well as who to ask and when to ask, can help students persevere when presented with something that is challenging or unfamiliar. While this pesky math problem still has not been solved, our student illustrates how having options for support, from the teacher or from home, can make distance learning easier.

Today at lunch me and all my friends video called. I think as we’ve been in remote learning for longer and longer, we’ve started to get better with video calls and staying in touch, which makes this a little bit more tolerable. The rest of my day was pretty uneventful and went relatively smoothly.

3. Build in opportunities to socialize
All humans need relationships in their lives. They are not just a perk; peer  relationships are a crucial component of motivation and learning (and the development of executive function). By allowing students to spend time on a video call, they will be better able to cope with the stress they are experiencing and will be able to put in effort and persevere in their studies.

As the weeks go by, teachers, students, and parents are learning what it takes to succeed at distance learning. As you continue to evolve your work, try to apply these three instructional components. Your students will appreciate it!

  • Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMARTS Director

This post is part of our Real-Life Experiences with Remote Learning series.