Get Started with Remote Teaching and Learning

Set yourself and your students up for success from the beginning with these tips and strategies for teaching online.

Get Started with Remote Teaching and Learning
  • Getting Started
  • Remote Teaching & Learning

Get Started with Remote Teaching and Learning

Try

Learn as much as you can about the way your students and their teacher(s) are using technology before you begin. This will help you transition smoothly into the workshop/residency and/or identify where you should plan to offer some additional tech support.

Try

Find creative ways for you and your students to introduce yourselves to each other online before you begin your workshop or residency. Examples include intro videos, PowerPoints, polls, and more.

Learn

Remote learning can be traumatizing for many of our students so take some time to incorporate Trauma Informed Teaching Practices

Planning

Just like in-person, remote teaching and learning requires careful planning. Whether you are working with an organization or as a freelance Teaching Artist, it’s important to know what kind of opportunities (and how many) you will have to be in communication with the Classroom Teachers and other Classroom Professionals before the beginning of your residency or workshop.

Inspired by a resource created by ArtsConnection Teaching Artists, the GIVE team has created a Remote Learning Planning Meeting Agenda. You can use it during a phone or video call with your partnering Classroom Professionals, or you can translate these questions into a Google Form or other online survey for Classroom Professionals to complete.

You can also explore information and guidance on ways to engage Classroom Professionals and other adults in your remote work.

In addition to planning resources designed specifically for remote settings, there are many general planning resources included GIVE Guide that you might find useful:

Planning Meeting Guidelines: including who to invite, a suggested agenda, and sample questions 

Classroom Observation Guide: if possible in remote learning settings

Assessing Students’ Strengths and Needs Online

Observing and getting to know students’ strengths and needs is an important part of getting started in any classroom setting. It might be more challenging in remote scenarios, however, due to difficulties observing student behavior or seeing students’ work while it’s in progress. Nevertheless, there are a few strategies you can use to understand where students are at and meet them there.

There’s so much to cover in a planning meeting, but don’t forget to ask about specific student strengths and needs. This is also an important question to ask of any Paraprofessionals or Related Service Providers who work with specific students.   

You can’t necessarily physically circulate around the room or spend time next to one student’s desk in remote settings, but you can observe students in multiple ways in both live and recorded sessions: 

  • If students are on camera, watch for facial expressions and body language. 
  • Watch for questions or comments in the chat to check for understanding or assess engagement. 
  • If you are co-teaching, plan to observe closely while your co-teacher is leading. 
  • Follow up in a neutral, curious way with students who aren’t engaging with content. This will help you find out if the issue is one of understanding, boredom or disinterest, technology, home environment, etc. 

As discussed in the GIVE Resource on Remote Learning: Adaptations for Classroom and Behavior Management, Teaching Artists should be cautious about making assumptions based on observations of students online. You may be able to get more context about a student’s strengths or needs by sharing your observations with one of your partnering Classroom Professionals. You can also explore the Strategies for Supporting Students with Disabilities resource for additional support.  

Building Rapport: Before You Start

If building rapport feels more challenging or clunky to you in remote learning settings, there are ways you can help students get to know you, understand what to expect, and introduce themselves—all before the residency or workshop begins! 

The sky’s the limit in terms of creative ways to introduce yourself before beginning a program. Classroom Professionals and Teaching Artists across the country and around the globe have shared creative ways of doing this—just be sure whichever idea you choose or create is easily shared with the students you’re about to teach!

Say hello through a video

Make a video of introducing yourself, your art form, why you like to teach, the space you’ll be teaching from, fun facts about yourself, etc. You can share information about the specific residency or workshop students are about to experience, or you can keep the video general so you can use it again and again. Be sure to check out these tips to make sure your video is accessible to all your students.

“Slide in” with a personal Powerpoint

If you want something you can edit easily and tailor for each residency or workshop, consider a personal Powerpoint. Share pictures of yourself, your art, and your life. Be sure to keep the text limited and consider a voiceover to read any text aloud and provide image descriptions

Bitmoji classroom, anyone? Get creative

Welcome students to your virtual classroom—Bitmoji style! Check out the External Resources section at the end of this resource for a tutorial on how to create these animated virtual classrooms, but the more important lesson is this: there are infinite ways to introduce yourself and set the tone for your classroom. Find or invent a way that feels authentic to you!

Creating ways for your students to share about themselves before or right at the beginning of a residency or workshop can support students in feeling like a recognized and celebrated part of a learning community. It can also help you understand student interests, strengths, needs, and more.

Conversation Starters

If you/your partnering school or institution are using a Learning Management System (LMS), start a conversation thread and invite students to respond to a fun, getting to know you prompt. These kinds of prompts also get students familiar with and interacting with the platform you’ll use.

What’s one word that describes you?
What’s a fun fact that no one else knows about you?
What are your top three hobbies?
If you were an animal/food/TV or movie character/etc., what would you be and why?

Video/Photo Messages

Invite your students to create an intro video using a simple platform like Flipgrid (linked in the Learn More section) or take a picture with a sign that shares their name and a written or drawn response to an introductory prompt. These options will be best if you create and send your own example first and if you have a clear sense of your students’ tech access and literacy levels.

Post a Poll

Using a Google Form or another similar tool, send out a poll to students before you begin. You might ask questions like:

What do you do for fun outside of school?
What books are you reading? Shows you’re watching? Games you’re playing?
What do you already know or what do you want to learn about [insert your art form here]?
Is there anything you want me to know about YOU before we begin?
Is there anything you want to know about ME before we begin?

Building Rapport: Establishing a Classroom Community

Building community is something most Teaching Artists think about and dedicate ample time to in the beginning of a workshop or residency. This is just as, if not more, important for remote learning. Some ways to do this in the early stages of your program are: 

Be sure to discuss and agree upon how you will support each other and care for your classroom community together. For online learning, you may also want to include expectations around technology use (ex. Keep chat conversations on topic). Be sure to record these community agreements somewhere. For live online sessions, you might create a slide that you can show at the beginning of each class. Even if you don’t have live sessions, you might add these community agreements somewhere that all students can access them.

Think about structuring your lessons in a way that feels consistent and predictable for students. Of course you’ll want to keep things interesting, but establishing a routine and creating classroom rituals can help students manage any anxiety or stress they may be feeling—either about your sessions or about other areas of their lived experience. Learn more about the importance of classroom rituals in online learning and create your own here.   

Be sure to build strong relationships with your partnering Classroom Professionals so you can draw on their feedback, their insights into students’ lives, their ideas about what students might need more or less of, etc. Read more about engaging the adults in the virtual classroom here

If students are learning from home, your classroom community might expand to include parents, caregivers, siblings, and pets in the background. In some cases, this may provide exciting opportunities for connection; in others and perhaps especially for older students, this might make it harder for some students to take creative risks while learning. There’s no easy answer here. The way you navigate this broader community will be unique to you, your students, and your program. 

Building Rapport: Maintaining a Classroom Community

Be sure to maintain and build upon the ways you established your classroom community in the early stages of your program. This will keep students engaged and create a secure environment for students. Below, you’ll find suggestions tailored for remote learning. For additional information or ideas for in-person learning, explore Developing Positive Relationships Among Students to Build Community.

We all value our art forms, and we value the learning and growth that can happen when students experience and make art for themselves. But what’s more important than the content of your lesson plan is that students feel connected to peers and adults in their lives, that they feel celebrated when things are going well and supported when things feel challenging. Here are a few ways you can create space for connection during your live sessions or through other online means: 

  • Learn and use names, whether in live sessions or while engaging students through emails, comments on their work, etc. 
  • Just as you would during an in-person class, find ways to positively reinforce strong artistic choices, leadership initiative, and students who positively support and collaborate with their classmates. 
  • Make time for a show-and-tell or a mini talent show. Have each student bring in an object or piece of artistic work and share it with the class. Let students ask questions and give positive feedback to their classmates. 
  • Provide time during live sessions or space on your LMS for socializing and checking in with each other. Give students space and time to share their genuine feelings and interests with their classmates. Encourage connections among students who may have similar interests. 
  • Check in with students who aren’t showing up to live sessions or aren’t engaging with other online content. Engage your Classroom Professionals to understand what might be going on and how you can support/connect.

Just as you would in an actual classroom, you’ll want to be watching for nonverbal feedback (session attendance, engagement with activities, etc.). But in remote learning settings, you may want to intentionally create more opportunities for students, Classroom Professionals, and even family members/caregivers to give feedback:

  • For students: There are multiple ways for you to invite students to reflect and share feedback.
    • Consider entrance or exit ticket polls that ask a few basic questions: One word to describe how you’re feeling today; One thing you learned today; One thing you didn’t understand today. This could be spoken or in the chat for live online classes or via a Google poll or similar tool for asynchronous/recorded classes.
    • Review the resource on ongoing in-class reflection with students for additional reflection strategies that could be adjusted for remote learning.
  • For Classroom Professionals: Send out a very brief weekly poll asking for input on what teachers would like to see more/less of; any changes in their students’ needs, etc.
  • For family members/caregivers: If you’re comfortable, share your email address early in the program so they can reach out with questions or concerns. You might think about a mid-residency poll to check in.

Reflecting on Your Remote Teaching and Learning

The GIVE guide provides a number of resources to support the process of you reflecting on your teaching. Though these resources were designed for in-person teaching, they will also be useful in online scenarios as well. See below for templates for your own self-assessment plus templates for end-of-program reflection with students. 

External Resources