The Corona Virus is spreading at an alarming range within the second wave, several countries have been forced to close their kindergartens, schools and universities in order to limit the spread of the pandemic: Covid-19. In just few months, more than 1.4 billion students as well as teachers switched from traditional usual education to distance learning.
As teachers or educators, we will certainly go through many challenges in different ways especially those in developing and underdeveloped countries. As we all know the importance of getting students back to schools and proceeding the learning process, that have been disrupted for a while, can not be delayed for more.
In this post I will provide you with 10 practical tips for teachers to overcome Corona virus Challenges. I built this checklist out of the latest recommendations and practices applied in highly ranked educational institutions and in compliance with the pandemic protocol. These guidelines have proved to be working well whether for traditional or online learning because they focus on the curriculum, teaching approaches as well as social and professional issues. Well! Let's detail these tips for teachers going back to school.
An opportunity For Learning Continuity Not Learning Disruption
“When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” A. Graham Bell
During this hard time, teachers can help the parents carry out some scientific experiments to simplify the technical guidance on COVID-19. They can use soap in these experiments so that children understand its ability to kill the virus and teach them information related to germs in general.
That way we can make Corona an opportunity for continuing education, not a hindrance to that process. Other examples of activities can include:
- Learning mathematics through graphs and equations about how it spreads in different circumstances.
- We can teach students the history of such health crisis by studying the history of polio, smallpox and the Spanish flu that happened years ago.
- Geography can also be studied by explaining the Corona virus spread patterns all over the world .
Avoid Excessive Use Of Worksheets
The virus can survive on a paper for up to four days depending on the material. Based on that info, we recommend that teachers minimize the use of worksheets and no sharing or passing around the materials.
And here is an infographic on how long can covid-19 live on surfaces:
Instead, these resources could be replaced by data shows, T.V or computers. Yet, if you need to use printables then you can follow these simple tips.
- Put the sheets on your desk and avoid going around to minimize the risks and set a good example for your students.
- You can opt for an online students enrolment form such as the following example: Online Enrol Form.
- Avoid distributing the sheets to pupils and instead ask them to come to the desk and take a sheet one in a turn.
- Avoid loading students with assignment worksheets. Instead, encourage and support them to learn what is available to them at home.
- Furthermore you can encourage parents to use what is already available at home – which has less chance to be infected- such as kitchens, gardens, papers, and other things to assist their kids in homework assignments.
Always remember that the most important thing during the pandemic times is not keeping up the pace with the prescribed educational curriculum, but rather keeping children and students engaged in learning and keep the flow of that process.
If you face problems using the old warmers and adjusting them to match the new health protocol, you can check the following helpful webinar hosted by Cambridge University.
Have Extra Academic and Medical Equipment
School is home of thousands of students from different social backgrounds. As teachers we have hundreds of pupils in our classroom and for that reason we should be prepared for any surprises. These difficulties may include but not limited to:
- Students who can not understand the idea behind social distance.
- Students with special needs or health issues that they must be given priority in exit.
- Bring extra medical masks and hand sanitizers.
- Acquire the necessary skills to use the I.C.T or the medical advice to your students.
- Always keep in mind the potential health risks that the Covid-19 poses.
- Pupils who don't have Internet or tablets for homework assignments.
Distinguish Between Online and Screen Learning
Screen Learning Activities:
- Video tutorials and how-tos.
- Educational puzzles and ESL games.
- Video songs or music clips and lyrics.
- Educational video games …
These screen activities are a great support for distance learning and acquisition consolidation. Teachers as well as parents should use them as much as possible.
Online Learning Activities:
- Making custom art posters from pasta sticks, cards shapes, or figures.
- Building a robot out of Lego or cardboard.
In fact, this type of learning is seen as the best form of distance learning. Therefore, not all online learning is screen learning, and not all distance learning needs internet.
Keeping Your Learners Physically Distanced But Socially Engaged
The fact of being face to face rather than online is already an advantage for socialization. but what is a common thing that will carry through different contexts and different places is that obviously
- We are going to have that distance among us which is normally one and a half to two meters between desks.
- Everything within the students' interactions circle should be measured so that they can not get close to each other.
- Less grouping.
- Some schools will be putting up plastic shields or partitions on their desks to make sure that students are not interacting too closely.
- some of us will be requiring to acquire to our masks and some of us will shield
- some of us actually none of this as well
So it really depends on where you are there's a lot of schools that are going to be keeping their children or their students in bubbles and in pods staying together throughout the day some of them will go and you'll be going to the extent of having stickers around your desks to make sure that you don't cross this boundary and nobody else comes as well so it's interesting to see the differences but obviously there are a lot of common common things that we're going to see in different classrooms.
The session will highlight key lessons learned from the global data that emerged from online-learning experiences. Among the most known strategies that proved to be effective:
- The inquiry-based learning.
- Flipped classrooms and reflection.
- Formative assessment or self-evaluation which can be done via online tools like Kahoot.
- Project-based work via online boards like Padlet.
Teachers should implement and test such strategies that encourage inquiry, collaboration and continuity of learning despite the distance in a socially and friendly atmosphere. Thus as an instructor you should adjust and vary your teaching methods, approaches and materials to set the balance between engagement and distance. That way we can guarantee a safe learning place both for students and teachers.
Positively Nurture Students' Relationships and Friendships
The school environment provides a feeling of safety, security and care. With the Covid-19 protocol, it becomes of high importance that socio-emotional learning be an essential need, and not just an alternative. So, making students feel loved, reassured, and safe is what teachers and families need to focus on rather than rushing through the curriculum lessons to finish what is scheduled.
How Should Parents Behave In Pandemics?
How parents can help their children during Corona virus? One of the hardest questions to answer. To put it in a nutshell, it is very important we as teachers – and we are parents too – should remind parents and caregivers to spend more time with your children during the day, listen to them, talk and hug them, enjoy moments of humor and entertainment, and do chores together such as cooking, crafting or reading.
How To Nurture Students' Relationships and Friendships?
Other than families ties, students need friendship ties too which are under threat during the pandemic times and the social distance measures. For all this you ought to help children communicate with their friends by writing electronic postcards, messages or via Skype.
Encourage them to keep in touch with their pals and relatives such as grandparents. Doing so helps a lot the children's who suffer from emotional and educational difficulties especially if they come from a low-income family that is struggling due to current circumstances.
Dear colleague be sympathetic and supportive of how these parents are feeling and what problems they may be facing. Understand what circumstances they may be going through such as loss of income, virus infection or other problems. Tell them that it is okay to lower their standards for their children's expenses a little. That could be a great relief and that way we succeed only if we work hand-in-hand.
Rebuild and Consolidate The School Routine
Students has spent a long time away from school routines, and thus many of them have certainly forgotten how to line up, commit to sitting in class, listen to others, and take turns to talk. Some of them were locked down for months with their parents and siblings.
Teachers are advised to rebuild the prior school routine before the pandemic. Making an adjustment to prior classroom rules is much better than coming out with new ones. one example is respecting peers as we may add not preaching the lines set by teachers between desks. (See tip 2) The same applies to queue by we add that 1 meter distance and all other school health protocol.
You may say that's hard! Yes! It is. No one denies that this will be tough for teachers, but just for a few months (hopefully) as you will need to rebuild the new normal code of conduct. This will save a lot of disruption in the future for sure
Direct Support For Students With Learning Difficulties
Not all students benefit from a good standard of living that lets them be ready for acquisition and following up the process which is built bit by bit. Thus, this adds more tasks on the teachers list and workload. Likewise, some students have better circumstances and more support from their surroundings. They come to school ready to learn.
Teachers and educators concerned with special education should direct support for students with learning and emotional difficulties. As well as ensuring that they are not left behind by colleagues. This can be carried even with out of class solutions such as:
- Online direct communication (face to face),
- Sending e-mails, following up on the individual learning plan for students who .
- Maintaining personal relationships through communication via Zoom, Skype or any other platforms wherever and whenever possible.
So, instead of teachers spending most of their schooling time teaching online solely, we have to spend more time with children with self-learning disabilities, to supply the required support and to making sure that they are not lagging behind their peers especially in this Corona virus times.
Continuous Professional Cooperation and Development
Collaborative work is always recommended, and during this time it is certainly at its most important. We have to ensure that allocated time for professional collaboration and exchange whether within the same or across schools and institutions.
You can also benefit from sharing ideas colleagues, supervisors, or retired educators. I recommend you leverage partnerships and professional networks, especially when these professional networks already exist such as LinkedIn.
The formal physical cooperation i.e regulated by ministries of education – is hard implement due to the lack of time and time constraints with work and family responsibilities. However, teachers have to play the role of leadership as they have always been doing.
Take Care Of Yourself and Your Well-being
Wherever you are in the world, teaching and learning have been significantly disrupted by the Corona Virus pandemic. The consequences of that chaos will not be easy to roll back especially for developing and underdeveloped nations. Education is the prerequisites to handle the emergency situation we are in. Consequently, teachers should care of themselves as they may go through hard times.
We, like other sectors, are also under pressure. We will be anxious about how to prepare and deliver lessons remotely. We also worry about our pupils whose homes are not a safe haven and may lack the necessary healthcare equipment. This makes us sometimes unsure about taking initiatives to reach out to our circle.
Lower Your Expectations
The above 10 guidelines are not always clear or consistent. You may find many teachers working to their full capacity and this makes them have high expectations from all the society members. Unfortunately, all the sacrifices and workload may not be recognized or it goes unseen. For this it is important that you lower your expectations so that you don't get demotivated and escape anxiety, stress and depression.
At that stage teachers' moral and academic support is crucial! There are virtual platforms, webinars and forums for teachers to collaborate together ( No need to mention that Raqmedia is also open to your opinion or collaboration too).
Unlike other sectors, whose heroic efforts are generally recognized and rewarded, teachers' efforts are less clear-cut, and usually people tend to question and criticize what they do not notice they are doing. So take care of yourself and your well-being and don't let them blow the flame on you! 😉
To conclude, It's true that I wrote this article with the colleague teachers and instructors in mind, but these tips should also be given adequate importance from the part of decision makers and educational policy authorities. It will be a good frame in a whole new education system for teachers to overcome pandemics challenges as it is the case of Corona virus or any future Pandemic. It's high time to deal with the new normal. Isn't it? Teachers should not be the only ones to handle the crisis as it used to be in many cases.