One week in to remote T and L – what have we learnt so far?

Like many of you the Teaching and Learning team have found this week in turn challenging and rewarding. Pupil attitude, behaviour and engagement have been high and the quantity of material covered in what is in effect the final week of term has been excellent. It has been fun to experiment with our virtual tools and distance teaching has forced us to think carefully about how to maximise pupil learning instead of recycling familiar lessons. Although it can be intimidating to move away from the comfort of the classroom and face to face contact I for one, have not found the transition to remote learning as impersonal as I had feared it would be. There have been plenty of times when pupils’ personalities, individual strengths and interests have shone through as much as they would have done in a real school setting. There is much to feel encouraged by and exciting times certainly lie ahead. The collaboration of all staff and general spirit of mutual support have been fantastic as we all learn together how to do the best job we can under very different circumstances.
On  behalf of the T and L team Joe has collated some ideas and suggestions from colleagues over the course of this first week which we would like to share with you in the spirit of sharing best practise. We are all novices but some strategies or approaches to this new teaching and learning format are emerging as being particularly successful.
Starters:
1. Have a routine – everyone saying hello one by one at the start, use the chat for students to flag up when they want your attention. A simple unmute (but don’t shout out yet) is a useful ‘hands up’ tool. This structure is vital and should be reaffirmed regularly
2. Display (inquiry-based) Lesson Objectives as questions to work through and for each student to answer by the end of the lesson to generate accountability and structure
3. Use a starter task in the chat or a pre-loaded source to settle students during log in – ensure you have your tasks and resources uploaded/on your desktop toolbar ready for the lesson.

Be present:
1. Students appreciate knowing we are there the entire time. Even if you ‘Flip Learning’ set work, you should be explaining in the background, perhaps with a Powerpoint or OneNote open on your desktop with you ‘inking’ live
2. Participate yourself – make regular use of the Chat/Posts/Conversation function
3. The forms icon in the chat section can be used as for quick teacher feedback on a learning point to check comprehension/participation
4. Have a notepad next to you to write down praise, top tips, ideas on improving your process
5. Try out some other apps with your students – quizzes such as Kahoot and Quizizz (or Quizlet and Forms inside Teams itself) can be paused and explained. You could use your normal lesson resources and articles as prompts for students to transform into a revision aid with your guidance. For instance, look at https://www.goconqr.com/

Discussion:
1. Challenge responses with “why?” And “so what?” – reframe questions, ask to compare or relate to another’s response if they struggle. Allow up to 30 seconds wait time online
2. Be sure to call on every student every lesson – use a mark book or register next to you to ensure you do this. Randomly spaced quiz questions throughout the lessons mean you can discourage pupils from passivity.
3. Get students talking together too; they can use their own devices and social media to do this while still being able to view the content on Teams. Research says that the more collaboration you can encourage the better: channels can be used to group students on teams and the collaborative space in class notebook for smaller groups.
4. Think of discussion as ‘volleyball’ rather than ‘ping pong’ – get as many students involved as possible to build up discussion. Comment on each other’s responses and uploaded pieces of work (the ‘Fishbowl’ technique). Have a system so it doesn’t get messy (see first tip above);
a. You only speak if the teacher calls on you by name
b. Only one person speaks at a time

Staying in touch:
1. Personalise feedback to a student by producing a quick video specific to their tips – this could be your feedback post-assignment, and is often easier to say than write
2. Write things online that are snappy as students end up scanning rather than reading in full – consider your subject line, bold print, lists, colour, use space to delineate sections, and use the @ to direct it to particular groups/students
3. Log praise publicly at the end of lessons on the team lobby – be specific and keep note of it
Troubleshooting issues so far:
1. Pupils can’t use Teams effectively…. YET! We should remember that this is a skill they are learning and will improve with practice. Our job is to facilitate this as we do with any skill we want them to learn.
2. Holding students to account for prep is even more important remotely. Be clear about where resources are, set a clear hand-in habit, then provide feedback speedily
3. There is no need or expectation to reinvent the wheel. Your usual lesson plans still work perfectly well on Teams
4. Realise that students are in need of reassurance – you can use the chat to do this, and frequent praise verbally. LS appreciate this especially.
5. How do we get instant feedback on student progress? – use the chat, send work digitally, frequently, use forms, use channels to listen in on pupils working together

JAS/JKS/SMB