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Learning at Home - Some Insights from Teachers

by Paul Nisbet

on Tue Apr 28, 2020

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Teaching and learning at home is pretty much brand new for all of us - so how do we actually do it? Two teachers give some really useful insights for educators, parent/carers and learners.

How do we teach and learn at home?

When schools closed two weeks before the Easter holidays, there was very little time for teachers, parents/carers and learners to adapt to the new learning at home situation. These are some of the questions that occurred to me:

How should teachers communicate with learners? Facebook, Twitter, email, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Duo…..? 

How can teachers actually teach? Do we expect the whole class to log on to Microsoft Teams at 10.00 on Thursday?

How do we set assignments and give feedback? By email, Show My Homework, OneDrive, Forms, Google Drive……

How can secondary school teachers coordinate teaching so that it works across the subjects?

What can we reasonably expect learners to manage at home, especially if they have working parents?

Do we really want learners to spend even more time staring at screens doing school work at home?

How will learners with additional support needs, who normally have close support from an assistant in class, learn at home without this support?

We're all still working out how to actually do this teaching and learning at home, and from what we hear, practice and pedagogy varies quite a bit.

Some answers

So I really enjoyed reading the insights from Marc Andrew, a primary teacher in East Lothian, and Barry Whelan, a maths teacher in West Lothian because they give some practical advice and answers to these and other questions. 

Marc suggests:

  • Set aside time to engage with pupils and families - so you don't get distracted and overload yourself.
  • Limit contact with families - so you don't overload families and learners.
  • Consider families who have English as their second language - who may have difficulty accessing information.
  • Encourage your learners to come up with a timetable - to help get structure that works for the family.
  • Avoid ‘Live Lessons’ if possible - they may not be practical.
  • Don’t try to recreate the school day - give work at the start of the week so that learners and families can tackle it in their own time.
  • Extra challenges - for learners who finish faster.
  • Share examples of great work - for encouragement and so that we 'know what a good one looks like'.

Barry has found:

  • Setting up class teams with Microsoft Teams on Glow streamlines communication with his maths classes.
  • Live lessons with Teams, and a graphic pad allows him to 'deliver lessons much like as you would in class' and he's found the human interaction to be helpful.
  • Class Notebook, which effectively gives each student a digital jotter, means he can teach, set assignments, and give feedback by typing, drawing and recorded audio comments.

Both practitioners remind us that we're not experts, we're all learning and that we need to be kind to each other while we work out how to live in this new normal.

Tags: learning at home, technology, pedagogy

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