Right now, administrators are doing everything in their power to provide ongoing education to their students. In some states, like Minnesota, schools are planning for at least eight weeks of lessons delivered remotely and equitably for every student. At the same time, school administrators’ concerns extend beyond student learning. They are working with maintenance and cleaning staff to sanitize their buildings. They are negotiating with bus companies and school lunch providers. They are working with teachers to transform their classrooms into remote learning environments. And they are communicating with parents and guardians who have suddenly become much more accountable for their students’ learning.
We know this sudden transition to distance learning is unprecedented territory for administrators who already have their hands full. And we want to help relieve some of that stress. Based on our experience supporting our clients’ distance learning, we’ve put together this checklist to help administrators who are just beginning to prepare students and families for this transition.
Verify each student can access distance learning.
- Contact families to find out whether they have a computer, tablet, or smartphone to access their children’s curriculum.
- Schedule time blocks for parents and guardians to come to school and sign out laptops or iPads.
- Find out whether families have internet service (WiFi) in their homes.
- Provide resources like hotspots so that families can access free WiFi if needed.
- Find out where local internet providers have free hotspots in place in your area, and then share this information with students, parents, and guardians who need it.
- Encourage parents and guardians to work with their students to keep their devices clean, charged, and safely stored when not in use.
- Mail or deliver hard copies of instructional materials and assignments to the homes of students for whom the availability of devices is unknown. We know you can’t let several weeks pass before discovering that students are not learning.
Verify each student is accessing distance learning.
- Ask teachers to add administrators and paraprofessionals to your classroom pages or send them the invitation codes.
- Verify each student has access to and is accessing the internet to use Google Classroom or other online learning platforms. For those who do not log in, send hard copies to their residences as well.
- Plan to track the online learning progress of homeless and highly mobile students (HHM) to ensure they have opportunities to learn.
- Continually check in with HHM students and plan to offer support if their living arrangements are not conducive to learning.
Keep track of your communications.
- Use a variety of methods to make your school community aware of your attempts to provide ongoing education to students, including email, phone calls, direct mail, text messages, social media postings, school website notices, etc.
- Document and keep track of everything you do to communicate with parents and guardians, so you have evidence of your attempts to provide ongoing education. This could mean saving phone call logs, open house attendee lists, sent emails, and social media blasts.
Support students and families through the transition.
- Make a plan for troubleshooting any problems students encounter when connecting to the online classroom. Who handles it? What are the common issues they might encounter?
- Provide students, parents, and guardians links to webpages where they can find information, resources, and support for distance learning.
- Provide instructions to families for using any online resources that may help to enrich the remote learning experience, e.g., Google Classroom, Schoology, Seesaw, Infinite Campus, Zoom, Extempore, IXL, MathXL, Lexia, Khan Academy, etc.
- Share best practices with parents and guardians for motivating their students to stay on task and complete assignments.
Already implementing a distance learning plan in your school or district? We’d love to hear what approach you’re taking. Leave a comment below to share your thoughts with us.