The pandemic caused a shift from in-person to virtual teaching and just as many people have become comfortable with that arrangement, we are shifting back from virtual to in-person teaching. Some teachers will use a hybrid teaching environment to address the needs of their children. Some teachers expect to be shifting back to in-person teaching many months down the line. Making a successful shift from virtual to in-person teaching is important, and just as important is developing transition plans that are adaptable and flexible, given the uncertainty around the topic.
- Reevaluate Course Syllabi, Pacing Guides and Unit Plans
Many school districts have changed schedules, shortened class periods and offered half-day instruction. A natural development of this is to reevaluate course syllabi, pacing guides and unit plans. The way instruction is done is highly dependent on the circumstances in which teaching occurs, so it is important to take into account the changing schedules, and content of classes.
- Chunk Lessons and Standards
Research on learning and scheduling shows that people learn best when they learn in small, manageable chunks of time, such as pomodoros. This will ensure that students remain fresh and alert during learning periods, allowing them to learn more and learn more effectively. Because time frames have been shortened, objectives are going to take longer to teach and guide students through to mastery. Breaking up lessons into smaller units speeds up the learning process, even if this is often counter-intuitive.
Break down standards into discrete skills so that you can teach them in focused chunks in those shorter periods of time. Always be alert to whether a skill should be taught in synchronous or asynchronous environments. By being alive to the different teaching needs of each skill, you can develop more robust teaching plans.
- Think Virtual
Although a complete return to in-person teaching is likely, one key lesson of virtual teaching is that students can do a lot independent of teachers. While building your content, you should design it as if it is meant for virtual instruction, even if it will be taught in-person in school or at some event center. Design it as if your student will not be able to ask you for clarification. Develop your content in an as-simple-as-possible, step by step way, with supporting video and other media. Not only will you give your students content they can use independent of the classroom, you will also be prepared in the event that there is any disruption and you are forced to return to virtual teaching.
- Embrace Collaboration for Hybrid and Online Spaces
Collaboration will always be an important part of instruction. So you have to think about what collaboration looks like virtually and in-person and find ways to nurture it. If you are working in a hybrid setting, then you have to plan virtual collaboration events and activities, so that collaboration does not fall to the wayside online. You could, for instance, have breakout rooms and even pair in-person and at-home students, so that the at-home students have an at-school anchor for their work and you can provide them with any help they need. Students can use collaborative tools such as Google Docs, or Slack, to work together and share documents and files.