Hi Teachers! Thanks for joining me today. I want to talk about what I have learned teaching TK through distance learning. I know that I have only been doing this for 4 weeks so I am by no means an expert however I hope that my tips and tricks can also help you in your virtual classroom. So how do you move your preschool, pre-k or TK online? It doesn’t have to be tough but it can pose a challenge. As we know TK is all about learning through hands on experiences, and that is something that is limited right now. But let me share with you how you can make this a fun and engaging experience for your class.
1. Do keep a morning meeting going
In the classroom setting most teachers will have a morning meeting. This is just a quick meeting to discuss with students what will be going on during the day and what to expect. This is still something that you can do with your students, just via zoom. I have a family who actually does a morning meeting as a family now and it is great. They say the pledge together, and do some “announcements” and then proceed to discuss the day. The best part is their child has totally bought into this and is really excited for it!
When doing your morning meeting it will take a few attempts for you to nail it down and figure out what works best for you. I can say this: if you are using Zoom then the mute button is going to be your friend. When I first started my zoom meetings I muted all my students and told them that I want to hear what they have to say so please raise your hand and I will unmute you giving you the opportunity to talk to the class. The students are respectful and raise their hands to speak and we are all happy. At the end of the meeting I always unmute everyone and give them about 30 seconds to say goodbye to each other before I end the meeting.
2. Do not think that everyone will be there everyday.
As a teacher we want to think that what we are doing is always important and always going to bring knowledge to the children. And generally I would agree with that statement. However there are going to be students who are not going to wait to join or are not going to want to participate. That is okay. If there are in class with me I give a hello and I begin the lesson. I will say that I have more participation when it is a hands on activity. For example I love to do directed drawings with the students. I will share my screen and we will draw together. I like this method because although the child is getting screen time they are also able to focus on something else, which is a more hands on activity.
3.Do offer up different ways to learn.
In the classroom I would offer a variety of things for the students to do and so I am trying to do that with the students now as well. Each week I send home a packet with some work for them to complete. I will also send home water colors and cardstock so they can create something with their hands. I offer parents links to read alouds as well as music and movement songs. I give students the opportunity to use their household items for math so they are not always on the screen. When I provide a lesson plan there is a quiet time activity everyday listed so students can take some time to decompress, just like we would do in the classroom.
I have a private Instagram account for my class that I use as well. I ask parents to email me photos of their child working on something throughout the day and I will take the photos and post them. Students love to see themselves up there but they also love to see their friends and what they are working on. It is so great to see how many different activities they are all doing!
I’m offering a small group time as well once a week. I divide the students into groups and I work with them so that they can get a better concept of the lesson that I am teaching. Sometimes it helps them to also just have a smaller group of students. They get more time to talk to each other and get more interaction with me as a teacher. I think that is something that is appreciated.
4. Don’t stress about differentiation.
I know that #3 was offer up different ways to learn and now here I am saying not to stress out about it. But this is a little different so lets dive into what I mean.
When I am in the classroom setting I differentiate the lessons that I am teaching. I group the students based on ability and I do my best to teach them in a way that they will understand. That can be really tough when you are teaching virtually. You don’t know what the students distractions are at home and that can play a part in their learning.
One thing that early educators need to focus on is the social aspect of the classroom as well. I know that my students will get what they need academically, so it is very important to me to keep that teacher student bond that we developed. I do not want them to miss their classmates too much either. I know that I can not recreate the social aspect of the classroom however coming to zoom daily is better than nothing.
5. Keep in touch with parents
Here is the deal: many parents are not teachers and that is okay. It has now become teachers helping parents teach. Teaching parents how to do certain things with their children and explaining how to recreate lessons. It is so important for us to be partners with the parents.
I sent out a weekly lesson plan to my parents so they have a guide on what they can do with their children at home. I prompt them with activities as well as directed drawings, morning work and books to read. If a parent has a question they can email me and I will get back to them. I also have daily videos on YouTube that will help them sort out their day. I want parens to be comfortable with teaching so that their children get the most out of it.
Right now we are in a really weird transition, I know that we are all feeling it. As teachers we also like to be fixers and make everything run smoothly. That isn’t something that we can do right now. The best that we can do is show up for our students and offer them a friendly face! You are doing a great job right now I know it! Keep up the good work.