Tips for teaching remote and in-class students simultaneously

Christine McLaughlin
Jered Borup, Ph.D

Teaching students in the classroom along with virtual students can present special challenges. Here are some tips for doing both, taken from the webinar, “Roomers and Zoomers: Tips for Working with In-Person and Virtual Students Concurrently” by Christine McLaughlin, sixth-grade advanced academics teacher at Fairfax County Public Schools (VA) and Jered Borup, Ph.D., associate professor in the Division of Learning Technologies at George Mason University (VA). Check out the webinar for more info.

Community before curriculum

  • For students to learn, they need to feel safe, and building relationships is key. Learn student’s hobbies, pets, etc., and make sure they have opportunities to get to know each other.
  • Start and end the day with a whole-class check-in. One good way to do this is to use Padlet, a free digital canvas that you can create beautiful projects which are easy to share and collaborate on. Make a daily check-in survey and make sure students in the classroom are also logged in and can respond digitally.
  • Ask students to make videos of themselves doing their favorite activities such as singing, gymnastics, hula hooping, guitar playing, piano playing, organizing, Lego building, etc. Flipgrid works well for this.
  • Make and post videos of yourself away from the classroom, for example at the grocery store to show math concepts such as a rate per pound, etc. This lets students see you as a person apart from a teacher.

Plan your environment

  • Have two cameras — one for you and one for whatever else you want to show to remote students
  • Have two computers — your school issue laptop as well as your desktop computer.
  • Have your phone for quick interactions
  • Make sure the camera filming you is elevated to eye-level
  • When talking to virtual students, make sure you are facing students in the class as well so you don’t have to turn your head to talk to them
  • Visiting specialists should use a clip-on microphone so they can be heard easily
  • If working at a whiteboard, make sure the camera does not get in the way of students in the room
  • Bookmark the apps you use regularly and put them in a group — right-click on the bookmark tab and select “Bookmark Manager”. From there you can create a folder to group your bookmarks, then move your bookmarks into that folder. Folders near the top of the list will appear on your bookmark bar.

Working with co-teachers

One teacher works in a room at a time while the other one works in the pod with a portable whiteboard. Students online and in the pod can see her lesson.

Interacting with students

  • When asking questions, give remote students extra time to respond
  • When calling on students, make sure you call on remote students as well as students in the room, in the same proportion that you have remote students
  • Make a sign to let students in the room know when you are hanging out with virtual students, and vise versa.

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