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How to Overcome the Challenges of Virtual Learning: Tips for Teachers and Parents

This is a sponsored post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 As I reflect on last year, I (like so many of you) have been challenged in ways that I never would have dreamed of at this point last year. I’m a mom with two young children, and I’m a teacher of 40 virtual kindergarten students. I was thrown into virtual learning the day before school was scheduled to begin and I’ve been toggling with my own children being flipped from learning in-person to virtual learning.

It’s been a lot. There are two things I’d like to share in the post:

  1. Some tips from an educator/parents for virtual learning.
  2. Share what AT&T is doing to bridge the homework gap.

I’ve got a unique perspective, here. I mean, I’m experiencing both sides of the coin…daily. As a teacher, I want my students to come prepared, fed, alert, screens on, and ready to focus. As a parent, I’ve found myself messaging my children’s teachers to say sorry…running late today- he’ll be eating the rest of his lunch during this meeting. Because, life.

So, as a teacher/mom, here’s what I can offer: extend grace.

Educators: Remember that this is new for all of us. If your students show up with their fruit snacks or leave the camera off, assume the best. Remember that people are going through things on the other side of the screen that we may never know about. As a teacher, I make my expectations known and I encourage them, but I tell myself every day that I can only control so much. It has helped! Also, keep in mind that engagement will look different depending on the grade level that you teach.  When I’m teaching face to face, I’ll be honest…there aren’t a lot of thrills. I’m not typically a “treasure box” teacher (not knocking it – it’s just not me!) But I’ve got to tell you…as a virtual teacher, I need ALL the thrills!  If a student is disengaged and I feel like I’m losing them, I’ll throw a virtual filter on (I’ve taught many classes with a mustache on) or invite a “mystery guest” to come and chitchat with my students at the end of class. I’ve even seen educators place stickers on their faces (one for each correct answer) and the engagement explodes because who doesn’t love to see their teacher looking silly? I’ve found that I’ve had to adjust my typical “no-frills” approach because I’ve never been in this situation…and that’s ok.

As a parent, I would encourage you to remember that you have a teacher who may or may not be comfortable with this new teaching assignment. We are learning how to toggle screens and take (possibly) decades of teaching experiences and move them to a screen. Again, grace. There will be days where your child’s teacher might end the virtual meeting and break down in tears. It’s happened to me more than once. But, there have been times where I’ve felt like I was going to lose it, and then a message from the parent of one of my students will come through to tell me I’m doing a great job. Just like that… I’m renewed. Extend grace and encouragement …and always assume that your children’s teachers are doing the best that they can!  

Throughout this time, I’ve grown in so many ways – personally, professional, parentally… and one thing that has made this time in which our lives were being conducted online much easier is a reliable internet connection.  I’ve found that on the days where the connections are strong, everything else seems to come together seamlessly. We are happier people with a strong connection! I can’t tell you how many days I’ve had to communicate with my 40 kindergarten students through the use of emojis because my screen was frozen. “Send me an emoji if you liked that book we just read” isn’t the most inspiring thing that I’ve had to say during my career as an educator.

That’s why I’m so thankful for companies like AT&T. We’ve all seen how this pandemic has shed light on so many problems that were already in existence.  AT&T is ready to help and aware of the challenges facing teachers, students, and parents. They understand the homework gap is disproportionately affecting students of color – affecting roughly 17 million students nationwide. Of those, 1 in 3 are children of color.

But, check this out: to help close the gap and enable connected learning, AT&T is offering discounted unlimited wireless data plans1 and content filtering services to more than 135,000 public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities across the country for a limited time!

The offer is available until January 22, 2021, to meet the needs of all 135,000 qualified public and private schools, from K-12 to colleges and universities. The national focus and awareness continue to grow, and educators know that eLearning is not a temporary fix – it is an investment in the future of education.

Here are your action items for parents, teachers, and everyone else:

  1. Teachers: Do something for yourself. Set a new boundary, treat yourself, and love yourself. You’re doing a great job and you deserve it.
  2. Parents: Take care of yourself as well. It’s not easy working from home while ensuring that your children are learning- trust me, I get it! Also, consider sending a quick note to the educators that are in your child’s life right now. You’ll never know how much that means!

Everyone can learn more about the homework gap and how AT&T is helping close the digital divide with a $10M commitment to underserved communities HERE .

I’d love to hear from you! What challenges have you had to overcome? We need all of the tips and ideas!! Leave a comment and share!

For details, see https://www.att.com/offers/discount-program/teacher/.


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