Education

Distance Learning Advice from Students and Teachers

Distance learning has proven difficult for both students and teachers. | Courtesy photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

By AUSD Digital Communications Intern Anya Yang

With the 2020-2021 school year taking place through distance learning, families and teachers alike at Arcadia Unified School District are adapting to this new form of virtual education. However, amidst the uncertainty of our current situation, there are a few methods and tips that teachers and students have learned to make this experience run as smoothly as possible.

For Students

Staying Organized

Google Classroom can be difficult to maneuver, but sophomore Anvitha Marlapati has a trick for staying organized. “Instead of scrolling up and down the feed on Google Classroom, you can simply click ‘Classwork’ at the top of your screen.” You can organize your necessary assignments with this feature as it easily displays your unfinished work alongside a calendar with marked due dates.

“Check your student email every single day,” Marlapati continued. Staying up to date on your assignments, announcements, and any other important news from your peers and teachers is essential.

“Check Remind, or any other app that your teacher uses. The reason they ask you to download these apps is so they can communicate with you much easier,” Marlapati also encouraged.

“Make a to-do list,” recommended Mrs. DeSurra, an English teacher at Arcadia High School (AHS). “I love to break things down into smaller steps and list them on a to-do list, and then I can cross them off as I accomplish things.” A free and user-friendly resource for creating to-do-lists is Google Keep. You can access it as an app or on your desktop. It has convenient features such as list sharing, device synchronization, and voice pairing capabilities.

“Take advantage of teachers’ office hours! They’re a great opportunity for students to visit their teacher and ask questions, or they can share their screen and explain things better,” encouraged Mrs. Murphy, a sixth-grade teacher at Foothills Middle School (FMS). If there’s anything you don’t understand, double-checking with your teacher privately through their office hours is a great way for more personal interaction.

Staying on Schedule

DeSurra also advised easily distracted students to set timers. “There are so many distractions constantly popping up,” she explained. “But I just focus for 20 minutes and ignore phones, emails, and any other distractions of my house, then take my break. You may want to try 10 or 15 minutes of focused work!”

Similarly, FMS teacher Mr. Young recommends that students set their alarm clocks accordingly. “I set my first alarm clock to go off about an hour and a half before my first live session, which gives me plenty of time to think about what I need to do during the day,” he explained. “If you don’t have an alarm clock, you can set up your Google Calendar to send you notices.”

Mrs. Vannasdall, a teacher at Rancho Learning Center, also recommends for those who have such devices in their homes to “download apps like Alexa” to set multiple alarms. These apps are best paired with smart speakers like Google Home or the Amazon Echo Dot.

For Teachers

Remaining Positive and Empathetic

Besides staying on track academically, it’s important to focus on the well-being of our community during these times. Ms. Keating, a teacher at Holly Avenue Elementary School, echoed these sentiments, saying, “Ultimately, my job as a teacher is to care for our kids’ hearts, and then care for their academics. If I can provide a safe, warm, welcoming experience for them, we’re going to be able to accomplish so much more.”

Mr. Green, a history teacher at AHS, mirrored Ms. Keating’s thoughts. “I’m trying to be more cognizant of the fact that everyone’s different. Sure, we’re all in this together, but I don’t know what’s going on in my students’ homes,” said Mr. Green. “I’m trying to be more empathetic, more understanding!”

General Tips

For more resources, the distance learning slideshows created by the district’s instructional coaches (accessible via email weekly) feature a multitude of helpful tips regarding topics like organizing Google Classroom, communicating with students, and receiving feedback. The most recent presentation can be found here.

Although these unpredictable times are definitely making for a unique school year, the students and teachers of Arcadia Unified School District are working hard together to ensure that our community stays supported and motivated. For more information about the Arcadia Unified School District, visit www.ausd.net.

December 10, 2020

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