Top 10 Remote Teaching Strategies [+Resources]

A Guide to Remote Teaching – Challenges, Strategies & Resources

Remote teaching and learning have quickly become commonplace in the American education system. Propelled by COVID, online learning forced many educators to quickly think on their feet and adapt their practices to ensure their students didn’t miss a beat. With over a year of research — and some trial and error — teachers have found the top remote teaching strategies that work for them and students of all ages. 

What Is Remote Teaching?

Remote teaching can most basically be defined as teaching that occurs outside of the physical classroom. Other terms related to remote teaching include virtual learning, e-learning, online learning and remote learning. A more formal definition that applies to all variations of remote teaching says “teaching that is typically facilitated through technology, such as video conferencing software, discussion boards or learning management systems. This type of teaching may be synchronous, where students watch instructors deliver their lectures live, or asynchronous, where students watch lecture recordings at a later point in time.”

Challenges of Teaching Kids Online

Of course, online learning presents its fair share of challenges for both students and teachers. Some of the most commonly experienced issues for children include: 

  • Distractions everywhere — this mostly applies to students who are trying to learn in an environment (their home) where they don’t usually learn, and have access to things like TV, pets, siblings and more.
  • Staying motivated — students have reported struggling to stay motivated when learning remotely. This is in part due to distractions, but also the challenge of staying glued to a computer screen all day with little human interaction.
  • Technical issues — unfortunately, technology is amazing until it isn’t, and technical difficulties do happen. The number of people using the internet at one time can slow down the bandwidth speed, making video conferencing programs slow or even impossible.
  • Getting left behind — online learning is not for every student, meaning many struggle to learn via virtual programs. This issue has forced teachers to get creative and try to come up with strategies to remedy the disconnect for students who are falling behind.
  • Missing out on social elements of school — school is about so much more than learning historical facts, math skills and reading comprehension. It is also about developing social, emotional and interpersonal skills that will guide students throughout their lives. Unfortunately, that element is missing in a remote teaching environment.

For teachers, issues include:

  • Lack of IT support — many teachers were thrown into remote teaching without much notice and very little training. While educators have done a great job of learning as they go, there are still technical aspects of the job that they need help with. 
  • Technical issues — just like students, teachers also run into internet bandwidth issues that can make it nearly impossible to use the programs required for online learning.
  • Setting and forgetting online learning activities — mistakes happen, even to teachers. It’s not unheard of for teachers to set a meeting or schedule a tutoring session and then forget to log in.

3 Tips for Designing Online Curriculum

When designing your curriculum for online learning, there are a few things you can do to make the process as smooth as possible for everyone.

  1. Engage the Learner: Online teaching should NOT just require students to watch video or read information and then prove their competency in an essay or discussion board. Remote teaching can and should engage the class and involve a high level of interaction via the video platform. 
  2. Collaboration is Key: Just because students are isolated from each other does not mean they have to learn in a bubble — in fact, it should be just the opposite. For those teaching kids online, try to include activities, learning opportunities or projects that require and encourage students to work together. They can use the same video conferencing software they do for class, and working with other students helps improve both learning outcomes and social skills.
  3. Create Clear Structure: It’s easy to feel pressure to cram as much as you can into an online course — attention spans are shorter and there’s a lot to cover throughout the school year. However, it is imperative that as an online teacher you create a clear structure for each individual class and the course itself so students A. know what to expect and B. can navigate their work in a successful manner.

7 Strategies to Improve Remote Teaching

  1. Be available: In traditional school settings, students can stop by your classroom with questions about an assignment or to just catch up. To create that same atmosphere, consider creating set times where you are available via video conference for students. This makes you as an educator approachable and might make students feel more comfortable asking questions.
  2. Use online resources: If you’re an online teacher, you know the internet is your friend, and that applies to finding useful tools and lessons to use. There are many online resources for remote teaching that will help you with nearly any problem: lesson plans, technical issues, virtual learning strategies, etc. 
  3. Be hyper organized: When you’re physically disconnected from the classroom and working from your home, it’s easy to lose track of things and get discombobulated. This means that being organized, and even hyper-organized, is highly important for remote teachers. Keep an online planner, a physical planner, use reminders, do whatever you have to do to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks.
  4. Establish your presence immediately: If you’re teaching entirely remotely, it can be difficult to establish the student-teacher dynamic. Be sure to make a concerted effort very early on to demonstrate how the class dynamic will work and establish your presence as an authority figure.
  5. Don’t lecture – be brief: Today’s attention spans are especially short, and they seem to get even shorter in the online classroom. Try to keep your speaking periods brief and allow more time for questions and class discussion.
  6. Provide ongoing feedback: Consistent and regular communication will serve you well in an online learning format, and that especially pertains to giving feedback. Try to provide weekly or biweekly updates to students both personally and generally so they can feel connected to the class and so they can keep tabs on their performance. 
  7. Explain the goals/purpose: Clear direction is the name of the game when it comes to building an online teaching curriculum. Try to clearly state, both verbally and in writing, what the goals and purpose of every task/assignment/discussion are. Students do well with clear boundaries and expectations, so knowing why they are doing something will help them stay focused and clear about expectations.

Remote Teaching Strategies to Bring to the Physical Classroom

If remote teaching is just a temporary scenario, there are some strategies that translate well from the virtual classroom to the physical classroom.

  1. Lesson segmenting: Brevity is one of the key elements of a remote teaching curriculum. It also applies to learning in person — attention spans, especially for younger learners, are quite short. By keeping lessons short, choppy and segmented, you can hold the attention of students for longer and get more productive time out of them.
  2. Ongoing formative assessment: Formative assessment is an evaluation method that asks teachers to conduct in-process evaluations of student comprehension, learning needs and academic progress during a lesson. This means checking in on student comprehension throughout a course or unit to see how well they are grasping concepts. It also allows teachers to intervene early before a student falls far behind.
  3. Communicate learning objectives to students: Students appreciate being looped into what is happening in their classroom, and that applies to both online and in-person learning. Just like you would clearly state the learning objectives to your class on video, you should do the same when standing at the head of the class. 

Available Resources for Remote Teaching

Teacher Resources

 Student Resources

Besides quick online resources, there are more formal learning opportunities for educators who want to learn how to teach remotely. The University of San Diego’s Division of Professional and Continuing Education (PCE) offers an online course for educators titled “Basic Remote Teaching Strategies,” which offers educators a chance to enhance their remote teaching abilities and improve their ability to connect with students in the online classroom.