Online Teaching Tips for Primary Teachers


When I first heard that I was going to be teaching remotely for the entire first semester, my heart dropped.  I panicked and quickly began searching for information on Online Teaching Tips. I also looked tricks to help my 3 kids be successful with virtual learning as well.  There was going to have to be a balance for all of us as we figured out how to make it work.  Now, 9 weeks in, there are still some bumps in the road, but things have gotten much smoother.  I am sharing my tips to make online teaching and schooling work, as well as advice from other teachers who are doing distance learning.

Establish Routines and Expectations For Online School

The first thing I did was put together a schedule.  I have three kiddos, all in different grades, so each of them has a schedule taped above their workspace, as well as in the front of their schoolwork binder.  They know when they need to log in to class to have face-to-face sessions with their teachers, and when to be working on independent activities.

I’ve also scheduled in lunch and a couple of breaks (we all need them from time to time… LOL).  Keep the routines that you had when they were going to school (get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, etc.).  Also make sure that they continue the rules and expectations at home too.

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

Choose a Good Place to do Online School

Create an individual space for each child to have as their “classroom”.  Make sure that it is free of distractions, quiet, and has a good internet connection.  You will need to monitor your child’s work throughout the day, so keep doors open and the space somewhere that you can check in sometimes.

I also purchased a set of headphones for each of my kiddos to drown out background noise and other distractions.

Stay in Touch with Teachers

Now more than ever, communication with your child’s teacher is extremely important.  Read the emails you receive.  Make sure you ask questions if you or your child do not understand an assignment.  Stay up to date with your school and district information on distance learning and reopening plans.

Just remember to be patient for the responses.  The teachers are trying to navigate all of this too. ?

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

Help Your Children “Own” Their Learning During Online School

There is a HUGE difference between “helping” your children be successful and “doing” work for them.  No one expects you to be their full-time teacher, or an expert on all of their subjects.  Offer encouragement and guidance when needed, and know that allowing them to struggle a bit is a good thing.  Becoming an independent learner is a great trait to have.

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

Quiet Time and Reflection

If you are like me, with kiddos in different grades (5th, 2nd, and Pre-K), as well as working or teaching from home yourself, there may be a need for some QUIET TIME!  Let’s face it, this is going to be hectic for awhile and you all have obligations and responsibilities that need to get done.  When the school day has ended, it may be a good idea to “unplug” and have some down time.  This is a perfect time to schedule in some “independent reading”. ?

Start and Finish with a “Check In”

Start the morning off on a positive note and make sure that you know what they are responsible for learning today.  You might ask… “What classes/subjects/specials do you have today?”, “Do you have any tests today?”, or “Is there anything today that I can help you with?.

After the “school day” is done, you want to check in again.  This time you may ask… “How was your day?”, “Did you find anything difficult or easy?”, or “Were you able to get everything done today?”  This way, you are staying on top of their learning and progress as well.

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

 Get Up and Get Moving During Online Teaching

Make sure that you all take “brain breaks” throughout the day.  Schedule in some physical exercise (even a quick walk down the street or around the block) to let off some steam and get some fresh air.  We also have a list of some excellent Brain Break Videos you can use to get your kiddos moving and having fun at home.

“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.
“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.

Let’s Just Go with the Flow

I have had to take quite a few deep breaths and know that “flexibility” is a key word right now.  We are all dealing with a lot of changes right now… change in routine, change in environment, change in our way of life.  It is important for us adults to remain calm, so that our kiddos know that everything is going to be OKAY.  Remember to laugh, smile, and enjoy spending time with each other as we navigate this distance learning thing.

“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.
“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.

Limit the Screens

Our children are spending enough time glued to their computer screens for school.  Try to limit out of school time screen usage.  Maybe less video games and TV watching in the afternoon will allow them to be involved in activities that don’t contain a “screen”.  Get out and get some fresh air when school is not in session.

“I just bought ” blue light ” glasses from Amazon….best purchase ever…first day without a headache….not teaching related …..good luck.” ~ Christy J.
“Breathe, keep it simple, have a routine and give yourself, students and parents grace!!” ~ Gina V-R.

Maintain Social Connections Through Online School

One of the biggest benefits of going to school is making social connections with your peers.  Our children will definitely miss spending time with their friends.  Try to encourage social interactions.  Your kiddos can call their friends, FaceTime, send emails, or have play dates (if you are comfortable with that).  Maintaining friendships will definitely help keep our students emotional health positive as well.

“Talk to the kiddos. Let them tell you about their cousin’s dog’s sister. They need to feel connected.” ~ Tanya H.
“Smile and laugh a lot. They miss you and want to see you.” ~ Ashley M.
“I am teaching my students sign language for our Zoom meetings. They have learned r for restroom already.” ~ Dorian H.

Online Teaching Technology Ready to Go

We all know that technology will sometimes crash, or not work as it should.  We must be patient and know that this is new for everyone.  But there are some things that you can do to hopefully keep your technology up and working and “ready to go”.

“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.

Teachers and parents alike, I hope that you have found some words of wisdom or insights that will help your distance learning journey go a little more smoothly.  These Online Teaching Tips have definitely made things much easier in my home and helped me keep my sanity during this time. (and with 4 of us doing distance learning each day that’s saying a lot… YIKES!) LOL

If you have any tips or tricks that you have picked up while teaching remotely, please share them in the comments below.  I am always looking for ways that will make the days better. ?

Written by: Janessa Fletcher

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