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Preparing to Teach Remotely: Questions to Ask

Part of the Responsive Remote Instruction Collection

As they are trying to work towards educational equity, our partners are keeping care for all at the center, designing deeper instruction for worthwhile learning, and prioritizing those in their community with least access. In this way, educators can avoid exacerbating existing inequities.

This section offers a set of questions to ensure that student needs for care, access to instruction, and worthwhile learning are met.

Many of these questions may have been addressed in other aspects of school planning for remote instruction; through tech audits, through schoolwide guidelines, etc. We know educators are often moving fast, and we know simplicity matters, so we recommend identifying which of these questions need answers most urgently (because they haven't been asked yet) and/or consistently (because they'll be relevant most often for most teachers). Click here for a Google Doc version which you can copy and then edit to suit your needs.

Questions to ask as a teacher/instructional leader about access and structure: 

  • Are you planning instruction for re-teaching skills and content or will this be new learning for students?
    • If it is a re-teach or extension, what data do you have to know which students were and were not proficient with the skill or content when it was last taught?  What were the needs then?
    • If this is new learning, are there any data that could be used as a pre-assessment to know how students are entering this new learning? 
  • How will you deliver instruction - synchronously, asynchronously, with technology, without technology?
  • What technology is available for student use? 
    • Do all students have access to the internet? 
    • Do all students have devices? 
    • What learning platform or software solution will you use for students? 
  • What technology is available for the teacher to use? 
    • Do all teachers have devices? 
  • What text is available for student use?
    • What text is most accessible for all students based on technology access and to support learning?
    • Will the text be accessed via technology (digital text) or will students have print copies of the text?   
  • What support will teachers need? 
    • Who will be your technology point person to troubleshoot issues (such as wifi connection, lost student work, communications, emails, etc.)?
    • What is the mechanism for teacher feedback and troubleshooting of challenges?
  • What support do families need? 
    • Message first respect and care from the school about what families are coping with
    • Ensure shared expectations and what families should do if they need support
    • Provide opportunities for families to come together to learn about the technology and know how to gain support

Questions to ask as a teacher/instructional leader about student engagement: 

  • When will students engage with learning remotely? 
    • What overall expectations do you have on the amount of time students will engage in learning? 
    • What structured schedule has the school or district provided?
  • How will students interact with teachers remotely? Will students interact with each other remotely? 
    • Breakout rooms? Padlet? Polling? Discussion board? 
  • How will teachers efficiently monitor for engagement and progress? 
    • What are the expectations for grading and assessing? 
  • How will teachers provide feedback for students online? 
    • How often? 
  • How will teachers engage students in opportunities to set small-step goals so that they can monitor their own progress? 

Additional Considerations for Student Engagement

  • If planning to teach remotely using technology, consider using discussion forums, Padlet walls, Voicethread or SeeSaw type activities as ways to promote student interaction. 
  • Determine the feedback platform and timing. Students respond best to quick feedback loops in remote environments where they rely on the teacher’s voice or written feedback and may not be able to “read” body language or teacher presence or tone. 
  • Consider using digital text with read aloud options for students for example through websites such as PebbleGo.

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We are learning alongside you about what responsive remote instruction looks like during a crisis.  We would like to continue to build these Collections as our collective efforts evolve. We welcome your contributions: anything you have created to support students during this time is something someone else might learn from. Use this form or email Sarah Norris at snorris@eleducation.org.

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