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Distance Learning Tips from REAL Teachers

September 8, 2020 by Emily

Distance learning comes with lots of questions and unknowns.  We have real teachers from the Fearless First Grade group that have some distance learning tips and tricks for you.  They’ve been working out the kinks of distance learning for the last few weeks and want to share some “expert” advice.


“If using zoom, turn off a lot of things students can do.  Chat only to host, no sharing screen, no writing on screen, and be ready to mute all.  Go over expectations several times with  multiple reminders.” ~ Megan M.

“It is really hard to do things like chants or call and response.  Have a “go to song” for when you need a filler because the tech is acting up or being really slow.” ~ Alexandria D.

“Send an email to parents about expectations, then you can hold kids accountable for behavior.” ~ Jennifer S.

“Put everything into Google slides and share the slides. Way easier then trying to show anchor charts on a wall! Bring your patience. Not just with your kiddos but with yourself. This is hard and not what we are used to. Have fun. Enjoy them. They will be happy to see you ❤️. Whatever you plan for day 1, throw it out and ad lib. Lol. Expect tech issues. They will happen even in day 1. Remember, it does get easier. I’m in week 5 and I’m still standing to tell you it gets easier!!” ~ Ellen P.

digital fluency passages for first graders
Digital Practically First Passages for the Year


“Practice mute and unmute. Have all icons in a blank slide deck and review them all the time. We’re on chromebooks and our whole first week of our writing block is just tech skills. Mute, screen share, google classroom, etc.
Consider making sure that Share, Mark, Add and Leave are on your first weeks sight word list. 😉” ~ Jamie G. 

“Print out pictures of the zoom controls and put them on popsicle sticks. Add in as many breaks as you can. Make it as fun as possible. Acknowledge their youth and need to wiggle even if it isn’t a break time. Be goofy and make jokes – it helps them stay relaxed. Make it as simple as you can for kids and “learning coaches”.” ~ Laura M.

“I just bought ” blue light ” glasses from Amazon….best purchase ever…first day without a headache….not teaching related …..good luck.” ~ Christy J.

“Make a sign for your door for when you are recording or going live to let coworkers know to hold off coming in.” ~ Sabrena B.

“Create a picture schedule with all your links.
Make a wait slide so that you can log on early to your call and students can see how long they have to wait before you come on (using a timer on YouTube)I found one of tpt that was super cute. You can also place your rules and materials they will need on the slide.” ~ Michele W.

digital phonics fluency poems for distance learning
Digital Phonics Fluency Poems with Audio

“Talk to the kiddos. Let them tell you about their cousin’s dog’s sister. They need to feel connected.” ~ Tanya H.

“If you are able, use 2 computers. I share slides from my school issued Chromebook and watch all of the students on my Mac.” ~ Becca B.

“Lots of hand gestures that you have your kids copying. This keeps them actively paying attention as well as learning.” ~ Erin E.

“I am teaching my students sign language for our Zoom meetings. They have learned r for restroom already.” ~ Dorian H.

“Share screen with a video makes for lag time. The longer the video, the worse the lag.” ~ Keyonia E.

“Have 2 screens, 1 to share your screen on and one to have the class in gallery view. Being able to see my kids while share my screen has made all the difference!” ~ Kristen L.

“When you hold the spacebar down during a google meet, it can temporarily unmute a student at any time! No more muting and unmuting students!!!” ~ Jenn S.

digital words cards for kinder and first grade
Digital Word Cards for Students to Practice Sound Decoding

“On chrome books double click on FN activates voice to text.” ~ Amanda S.

“When students hit JOIN A MEETING there is a drop down arrow showing past Zoom links. As long as it’s a reoccurring link it’s all in one spot! GAME CHANGER for littles.” ~ Michele D.

“Ctrl + d also mutes and unmutes in Meet.” ~ Kimra P.

“2 screens! It’s hard to adjust to at first, but it’s a life saver when you go to share your screen and can see the kids!” ~ Heather B.

“Zoom norms (rules) they have to practice every day.” ~ Mimi S.

“YouTube anything you don’t know…we had to create our our website on canvas and we are using Google Meets (learned everything through YouTube videos).” Maria F-A.

“Print zoom control signs to hold up. They show the camera button on/off, mic button on/off, gallery view and speaker view buttons, and leave button. Be flexible. The kids and families need it. So do you.” ~ Laura M.

“Establish norms for everyone present. Students AND adults.” ~ Pennie R.

“I have digital sticker charts I’ve been using work my students. Helps to keep them motivated” ~ Jenny C.

digital insect close reads for distance learning
Digital Non-Fiction Insects Close Reads

“I just bought a years subscription to Starfall. It has so many activities. I can copy the link and give it as an assignment, or I do a loom video and share my screen and use things from Starfall.” ~ Natalie T.

“Smile and laugh a lot. They miss you and want to see you.” ~ Ashley M.

“Breathe, keep it simple, have a routine and give yourself, students and parents grace!!” ~ Gina V-R.

“Be overly prepared.
Set rules. Teach everything… just like in class. But different stuff. Mute and unmute, etc.
Use scavenger hunts to engage kids, but realize parents may need a heads up— since some kids may be in a learning pod or daycare setting— so I post a “things you’ll need” list the night prior.
Make schedule clear for families and try to hold to it.
Good luck. I’ve finished one week. It’s a lot!” ~ Brenda A-R.

“If at all possible have 2 laptops running at the same time. If you’re using teams you can’t share your screen to present and see your kids at the same time. So on one do your ppt or whatever and the other large gallery view.  Also if you need to show them something that they need to view specifically you in your camera: pin yourself on one laptop and share that screen they will see you whole screen that way rather than a little box.” ~ Leslie B.


These Distance Learning Tips from REAL Teachers are super helpful.  In times like these, we need to help each other as much as possible.  Hopefully you have found some of these golden tips and tricks from teachers who have now been teaching virtually helpful.


~ Written by Janessa Fletcher

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