In light of the emerging information around the novel Coronavirus COVID-19, government health and education agencies are shifting their focus to remote education to enable teaching and learning to continue in this unprecedented environment.
We know educators around the country are scrambling to respond to requirements for remote education plans. While there are a plethora of executive orders, guidance documents, and strategy conversations, what appears to be missing is a very tactical compilation of tools and ideas that will help you move your district forward today.
To that end, we have compiled a list of tactical resources and promising practices that we’re seeing around the country to address common issues as districts plan and families and staff adjust to the reality of remote education.
Below find a general set of considerations and resources. As we develop them, we will continue to add state-specific matrices that reorganize these resources in response to specific state-level plan requirements available at the bottom of this page.
One of the most frequently requested items from parents is a suggested daily schedule to allow for structure and routine. Khan Academy posted a daily schedule template on their blog adapted by grade level.
We know that students and families aren’t alone in adapting to a world of new schedules, routines, and responsibilities. Here are some suggested schedules for staff as they face the daunting task of supporting students they no longer see face to face and think about how to schedule their days to create balance, structure, and their own well-being.
FAMILY SUPPORT RESOURCES
This is a time of incredible stress for families. Whether they are dealing with concerns about weathering the financial crisis, managing work from home and schooling from home without additional childcare support, health crises, or a combination of the above, providing emotional and mental health support resources to families can be an important function of the district during these uncertain times.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) operates a crisis hotline number that can be used by families dealing with the stress of the COVID pandemic at no cost to the family. The service includes crisis counseling, information on how to recognize distress and its effects on individuals and families, and tips for healthy coping, as well as referrals to local crisis call centers for additional follow up care and support.
This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Individuals and families can call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
- The Arizona School Counselors Association, in collaboration with the Arizona Department of Education, published an SEL Resource List to help schools and families with coping skills. Many of these resources are not location specific and can be utilized by districts around the country.
The technology infrastructure required to support remote teaching and learning may not be ready overnight, but there are several things you can do right now to help students and teachers get off to a good start.
- Use a Google Domain. This will give your teachers and students online tools such as Google Hangouts Meet for audio/video/screensharing meetings for classes and individual tutorials, Google Drive for file sharing, and Google Classroom to put a gradebook online in minutes. The Google Teacher Center has published tutorials for teachers to help them get started.
Don’t have a Google Domain one? No problem, we invite your district’s high school teachers, students and administrators to join our “Gradally” Google domain. Contact us to get started. We will need a point of contact and a list of district administrators and teachers names and email addresses.
- Survey your students. Verify who has technology and internet access to allow for online learning. While perhaps counterintuitive, Bellweather Consulting has concluded the best way to do this is an online survey. A non-response is considered an indicator of lack of access. Need a survey tool? We like, you guessed it, Google Forms, but there are also free and low cost online survey tools like SurveyGizmo and Survey Monkey. Survey Monkey is advertising discounted pricing for schools impacted by COVID-19.
Questions to consider asking:
- Student name (required)
- Student birthdate (required)
- Zip Code (required)
- School (choose from dropdown)
- Do you have a computer at home that your child can use?
- Do you have internet at home?
- If no:
- Do you have a wifi enabled devices that your child can use (e.g., laptop, iphone, ipad, kindle)
- Could you access internet if it were available at any of the following locations? (multiple select)
School parking lot
- School parking lot
- Student’s regular bus stop
- Church parking lot
- Tech Support – One of the challenges IT departments will face is turning themselves from infrastructure engineers that work behind the scenes into an end-user IT department. As learning becomes more dependent on technology-enablement, tech support for students and teachers becomes critical.
Here are a set of best practices from our CTO, Gregg Rosann:
- Provide easy ways for students and teachers to communicate with the team – Multiple modes of communication is imperative – a student can’t login to submit a trouble ticket if they can’t get on the internet. Consider having a phone number, an SMS number, a twitter and facebook account where students can direct message.
- Publish your tech support hours – consider extended school day hours to keep students and teachers on track.
- Create micro-tutorials that you can publish to a district YouTube channel to students to solve common problems like saving files, finding files, uploading or downloading files, or using the online communication tools. These tutorials should be about 30-90 seconds – any longer and students will abandon.
- There are a number of screencasting tools to allow you to capture instructional video tutorials from your screen. We like Screencastomatic, but there are a number of good options out there for no or low cost.
As you develop the remote learning plan for your district, consider combining online curriculum for tech enabled students with packets for those who do not (yet) have technology access.
- Graduation Alliance curriculum – Graduation Alliance has developed more than 120 courses specifically designed for proven effectiveness with at-risk populations. We will make our student portal and this curriculum available to your teachers and high school students. Professional development for your teachers and support staff required – we’ll set this up to help. Contact us if you’d like us to get this set up for your district.
- Integration points – We also understand that other curriculum may be better suited to certain students’ needs. If you have licenses to Apex Learning, Odysseyware, Gradpoint or eDynamics curriculum we have built integrations into these platforms which would allow your teachers and students to access a broader array of course offerings, while still having a single portal (our GA student portal) to track student progress. Other providers? It might take a little longer, but if they have the right technology, we’ll do our best to connect.
- Coming soon! Resources for online course and packet development
Teachers are the center of the classroom, whether that classroom is in a school building or students are logging in or completing packets from home. What does their new world look like? What kind of training do they need *right now* to support them as they support students?
Graduation Alliance hosted a series of webinars in mid-March attended by traditional teachers trying to figure out how to navigate their new classrooms. We have a set of recorded webinars with best practices and a Q&A page that teachers can access TODAY as they seek to adapt to their new environment.
- Check out our webinar recordings
- Teacher Transition Q&A
- Teacher to Teacher – Advice on Transitioning to Remote Classroom
- Teacher to Teacher – What I wish I’d Known (and Done) Three Weeks Ago
- Coming soon! Teacher schedules
Teachers are not, however, the only staff that are needed to run a school and make sure that the district’s functions are served. We’ve provided some thoughts on staff redeployment and how traditional roles and responsibilities might morph while allowing teachers to teach, students to learn, and schools to function during these unprecedented times.
SUPPORT FOR SPECIAL POPULATIONS
This pandemic, with its accompanying economic consequences, is creating a new class of at-risk students: students who were succeeding in the traditional academic environment but who, when their social support structure has been removed, when the stress of their family facing unemployment or significant reduction in income dominates their home lives, when the connectivity and community that they thrived in previously have transformed beyond recognition, do not have sufficient resiliency either themselves or in their support networks to recalibrate quickly to their new reality and continue to focus on their education.
- Seniors – Not only do seniors need to wrap up classes required for graduation, they are trying to figure out post-secondary planning and transition to adulthood in a very uncertain world. Montgomery County ESC in Dayton, OH has developed a Senior Strategy for providing extra human support to students to help them through the transition at this critical time. Contact us if you’d like more details.
- Special Needs Students – The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center has posted a number of resources on how districts can continue to provide special education services and accommodations through distance learning and remote education, with specific information about telehealth, telemedicine, and the impact on medicare reimbursement.
As special education providers adjust to the new reality, many providers are changing to remote connections and parent training calls. Consider, as well, companies like Presence Learning that deliver special education services online as their core competency.
- Students without at-home support – Consider redeploying non-instructional staff to provide the additional human support necessary to help students thrive in a less structured environment. Graduation Alliance provides professional development to districts wishing to train staff on academic coaching for at-risk students. Contact us.
- Credit Deficient/At-Risk Students – It is easy for students to lose sight of the long term as their world is shifting beyond recognition. Special programs and support to keep students on track or get them back on track, prevent the summer melt, and get ahead of tomorrow’s dropout crisis require us to redouble our efforts today. Whether its best practices, professional development, or added layers of human support, Graduation Alliance can help.
MANAGEMENT AND SUPERVISION TOOLS
As administrators overseeing the now difficult-to-observe operations of the school and district, what tools do you need to ensure teaching and learning is happening? Here are a few items for your consideration:
- Common View – As a school administrator, you are used to walking down the halls and physically observing teaching taking place. Student desks are occupied or they are not, students are engaged or they are not. Attendance reports come in, whether electronically or by paper, every hour. Your world is now unrecognizable. As your teachers shift to a remote teaching model, your observation style must also change. In addition to scheduled and drop in observations of synchronous online classes, consider adding tools that will allow you to monitor what is happening (or isn’t) so you can provide the support and resources to the right people at the right time to keep learning on track.
In Graduation Alliance’s every day business, our teachers, students, and support staff are remote. We built a set of tools to give administrators a “common view” of student progress, regardless of which curriculum they are using. Whether it’s through Graduation Alliance’s platform or another one, we encourage you to find a way to have a “common view” of what’s going on in your “school.”
- Coming soon! Attendance Tracking and Monitoring
- Coming soon! Attendance Remediation Teams
- Leverage existing communication tools – Check your learning management system for any integrated school-wide communication tools.
- School wide notification platforms such as School Messenger, Campus Suite, Single Wire, One Call Now, or School Cues.
- Social Media can help you stay connected with students and families as well as your staff. SocialSchool4EDU developed a social media toolkit for schools to help keep the district at the center of the community.
- These COVID-19 specific Communication Templates, from Tracy Jentz, APR at Grand Fork Public Schools in North Dakota, can help your district communicate quickly and accurately about what is going on in your community and how your district is responding to it.