With all of our new tools and despite the fact that efforts have been made to simplify things for students, parents, and teachers, there are still a gazillion combinations of ways to do things within each of these tools. Students approach our classes, wondering: Where do I go for this class? How do I contact the teacher if I need help? When is it appropriate to contact the teacher? Where do I find the Zoom link for this class? Where do I go for asynchronous assignments for this class? And where do I check my grade?

It is important to be aware of how all of our learning tools work, but since it they are so new to us, not all teachers have figured out the ins and outs of all aspects of the tool.

Different ways of communicating

Take communication, for instance. There’s email. There’s messaging in Schoology. Some teachers are posting updates for classes, which can always be found in the Updates section. Some teachers are responding to comments on these updates, and some are not. Some teachers have chosen to send mass emails through MiStar. And these are just a few of the factors that can vary from teacher to teacher with potentially no commonality. Most important at this point is that students know what the norms are for all of their classes, including your particular class.

It might benefit students and parents for teachers to communicate these digital norms to them. A secondary student should be able to sufficiently fill out a table like this:

HourTeacher(s) namesBest way and time to contact teacher during
asynchronous instruction? And is it different when it’s NOT asynchronous instruction time?
Where will the Zoom
link be located?
What should I do as soon as I enter? (And How do I make sure I’m marked present?)
Where can I find the
most accurate gauge of
my progress?
Where will the teacher be
posting new announcements and
class info?
What process should I go through if it’s during school time and I can’t find what I need or I’m having technical issues?
1Schoology message?
Email? ______________________
Both?
2Schoology message?
Email? ______________________
Both?
3Schoology message?
Email? ______________________
Both?
4Schoology message?
Email? ______________________
Both?
5Schoology message?
Email? ______________________
Both?
6Schoology message?
Email? ______________________
Both?

Clarity in how you expect to interact with students in a remote learning environment is just as important as every classroom norm in the physical classroom. Communicate these norms clearly. Revisit these norms. And make sure it’s communicated if norms change (such as if you find a better way–that’s ok!). Removing as much uncertainty as possible can allow teachers to get about the business of teaching, and students to approach their learning with confidence.

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