As the role of the classroom teacher continues to evolve in this post-COVID world, it’s important to look at the future of online teaching.
While I’m hopeful that the concurrent or hybrid model that is so common right now will not be a mainstay, I believe we will begin to see distinct roles for online teachers emerge.
In this episode, I’m chatting with eLearning teacher Morgan Longtine.
Learn about Morgan’s new role as the online teacher for two grade levels, what works, and why she loves it so much!
This episode is sponsored by WriQ.
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The Future of Online Teaching in a Post-COVID World
Today’s guest is Morgan Longtine, an eLearning teacher from Louisville, Kentucky. Morgan teaches fourth and fifth-grade entirely online.
Morgan’s new position was created because of the pandemic, which is a smarter decision than putting the burden on teachers to combine their in-person students with their online students.
I believe it’s important for schools to see the value in a dedicated position for online teachers.
This is not a new idea. We’ve had online/virtual schools and dedicated distance learning teachers for some time, but this has generally been considered alternative education, not widely available in K12 schools.
The pandemic has brought a big shift to education, and I do believe that many parents will come to expect an online school as an option for their K12 students.
Starting School Online
Before school started in the fall, Megan met with the other eLearning teachers at her school to design the curriculum, set requirements for synchronous and asynchronous, and what needed to be changed to work online.
Megan met with parents and students on Zoom to set the expectations for the school year.
Megan says that there are a lot of differences between online learning and face-to-face, but that many things do remain the same.
It’s a new venue, but the procedures and concepts for starting the school year were the same.
Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Learning Expectations
Megan’s team decided that students needed to be doing school work for four to five hours every day.
They synchronously connect with the teacher for one hour to an hour and a half each day. The synchronous learning is split into two different Zoom calls, so students are not staring at a screen for more than a half-hour or so at a time.
Megan’s students have become very independent and comfortable with online learning. They have taken complete ownership of their schedule, their day, and their learning!
While she knows there are parents there to support, parents seem to understand the expectations and are asking very few questions.
Is Online Learning Good for ALL Types of Learners?
No. Megan has had a few online students return to the traditional in-person classroom. These students need more personal connections and help with keeping up with their tasks. Offering both options allows us to differentiate and meet the needs of all students.
The kids that thrive are self-motivated and independent. It takes the right personality and the right type of learner to be successful in an online environment. (This is true for adults, too!)
Combining Grade Levels
Megan brings her fourth and fifth graders together on Zoom every morning for the morning meeting. During this time, the day’s schedule, ask questions, and build their community.
Students are broken into small groups by grade level for math. She will play math games, answer questions, and reinforce concepts.
Later, students meet with different groups for guided reading. These groups combine fourth and fifth grade based on their reading level, which Megan says has been very valuable. She can push the higher-level fourth-graders by grouping them with fifth graders. And the fifth-graders that are struggling, she can group with other fourth-graders at the same level.
Megan quickly realized that her students don’t need her to stand in front of the room and deliver a 45-minute math lesson! (Gasp!)
The kids don’t need us to stand in front of the room and deliver a 45-minute math lesson.
The types of assignments need to remain consistent to avoid overwhelming online students.
Related: 5 Shifts We Need in Education Now
Building Relationships and Community
Building community and relationships online is a challenge. Megan has had to be very intentional about it.
Megan scheduled one-on-one Zoom meetings during the first couple weeks of each semester to get to know her students. She asks what they like, what they struggle with, and finding out what they like to do.
Working with small groups also helps make those personal connections and build community among students throughout the semester.
Relationships are everything! They will help you and your students become partners in learning.
About Morgan Longtine
I’m a 4th and 5th grade eLearning teacher, lover of books and coffee, and an excited learner about all things education. My passion is to engage students, excite them about the world, and inspire them to become life-long learners. Part of doing this is helping teachers to sharpen their tools, perfect their craft, and become the best teacher they can be. I completed my undergraduate degree at Boyce College in Elementary Education. I earned my first master’s degree was in Gifted Education from Western Kentucky University. I am one semester away from finishing my second master’s degree from Western Kentucky University in Libraries, Informatics, and Technology in Education.
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