I love my students and, boy, do I miss them. Teaching remotely over a computer is just not the same as seeing them in person. I miss eating breakfast together, morning meetings, laughter on the playground, deep discussions about books we’re reading and so much more.

Our school, Casa Blanca Community School, is located in the Gila River Indian Community outside Phoenix. We thrive on building social ties with students and families, but keeping those social ties in place and student engagement up isn’t easy during distance learning. Over the past year, I have found that some strategies work better than others with my third graders.

I think it is important during this challenging time to keep my students moving, to stay connected by phone and online and to communicate with families. Here are the four specifics.

  1. First, get the wiggles out: We’ve all experienced virtual fatigue, and children are no different in that way. So, I realized early on that I had to give the students opportunities to move if I was going to keep them learning.
  2. The little things matter: Another thing I’ve realized during this time apart from my students is that with in-person schooling there are many times throughout the day when my colleagues and I, even without being aware of it, remind our students that we know them, see them and care about them.
  3. Create a buddy system: I’ve also put a buddy system in place so that students can check on one another, particularly when students miss class — something that unfortunately happens far more often during remote learning than it did with in-person instruction.
  4. Asset-based teaching: In addition to finding family connections, I’ve discovered that it’s especially important this year to teach to students’ strengths.

Read the full article about helping students during remote learning by Keisha Robertson at The Hechinger Report.