COVID-19: Why Distance Learning IS Working for My School

Four weeks of distance learning complete, and we get a chance to breathe: this week is spring break. I can’t lie, remote teaching is TOUGH. The days feel weirdly longer and shorter than usual. I honestly feel like a first year teacher all over again. So much is different than regular classroom teaching. With that said, after talking with my dad, who’s also a teacher (7th grade Social Studies as opposed to my high school Math/Science), I realized my school was set up really well to succeed with distance learning.

Why distance learning is working for us:

1. We’re a small private school

  • We have 15 total staff members – it was easy enough for us to rally together and get on the same page. We had prepped for the possibility of distance learning in the weeks leading up to the official shelter-in-place order, and the weekend before it was announced we all worked to solidify our plan. Then during the first week we met every day after school as a staff on Zoom to discuss what went well and what we could change.
  • We have about 70 students total – which means our classes max out at around 12 students. My biggest class this year is 6. Having taught 30+ before, I know just how lucky I am! Our small class sizes made it possible to truly help each kid through this transition.
  • We’re private – so we had full flexibility in choosing what platforms to use (after some testing, we landed on Zoom).

2. Our students all have school-issued Chromebooks

  • Starting this year, students weren’t allowed to bring any other devices to school besides their school-issued Chromebook – this was a win for regular classroom teaching (we could holistically block sites and we have software installed on the students’ Chromebooks that let us monitor their screens during class), but it ended up being a HUGE advantage transitioning into distance learning. We knew what technology students were working with, and we also were able to guarantee that every student had a way to join the video conference.
  • Now I will say, there is one drawback – although every student has a Chromebook, they’re sometimes slow when students are using Zoom and other Chrome tabs. We have allowed some of our students to use their personal computers. This was an especially good decision for our students who also had poor wifi.

3. Our schedule is realistic

  • We teach 5 classes a day, 4 days a week – Monday through Thursday are for our typical academic courses, and Friday is when we do electives. Given that many of our electives were off-site (rock climbing, archery, hiking, fencing), when we transitioned to distance learning, we had to suspend those activities and just meet for an hour each Friday morning with the students for a real-world group project class we have. Monday through Thursday look like this:
  • We also were willing to change our schedule – the schedule above is actually slightly modified from our typical in-person schedule. We found that it was really hard to transition with short breaks in between periods, so we moved some things around. Also, in general, having a 9am start time is a blessing!

I’m very proud of how my school is operating under these circumstances. It’s so good for the social and emotional health of our students that we transitioned quickly and kept as much the same as before. And honestly, this normalcy was good for us teachers, too!

Wishing you health, safety, and happiness,


3 thoughts on “COVID-19: Why Distance Learning IS Working for My School

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