In early 2020 when the world went remote in a joint effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, many educators and students transitioned to remote and distance learning. With the help of video conferencing platforms and remote collaboration tools many school districts found success in their virtual classrooms.

As we move toward the second year (believe it or not) of navigating life in a COVID-19 world, many school districts have made the most out of their new socially-distanced circumstances by honing their hybrid learning skills. Read on to learn how to combine the top in-person and remote learning best practices to create a hybrid learning environment that works for you.

Provide technology

Your hybrid classroom will only be as successful as the remote tech tools you use. Depending on the age level of your students, you may need to choose technology with different degrees of user-friendliness. Every hybrid learning environment is supported by a different combination of tech tools. 

The most common technology used in hybrid classes includes:

Create age-appropriate virtual lessons

Once you have all of your hybrid learning technology in place you can design your existing lesson plans to fit into your new virtual reality. Some activities and classroom materials may be easier to transition online than others. Remember that the goal is not to duplicate your in-person classroom in a virtual environment but instead to tailor your distance learning tools to fit your classroom needs.

Educators have long recognized the importance of tailoring learning materials to different age groups. The virtual learning tools you utilize in your classroom need to be similarly tailored to match the tech-fluency level of your students. For example, a full school day’s worth of straight video conferencing is sure to cause restlessness. Instead, break live teacher-led video conferencing lessons up into 30 or 45 minute sessions intercut with independent offline work to reduce the risk of tech-induced fatigue. Just like you would break fully in-person classroom time up into group work and individual work, hybrid classroom sessions should be given a similar structure.

Most importantly, no matter which tech tools you choose to support your hybrid classrooms, take the time to teach your students how to use the learning tools that you provided them. Treat these virtual communication and remote collaboration tools as an extension of your lesson plan. The first step during any new assignment should always be making sure your students are comfortable utilizing the digital materials they have been provided, so they don’t run into any preventable roadblocks.

Build a hybrid community

All transitional times have the power to be intimidating to students. And when some students may go months without being in the same room as their teacher and peers, this time has the potential to get even more stressful than usual. To curb as many emotional ailments as you can for your hybrid students, take the time to build a supportive and trust-based community in your hybrid classroom.

What tactics did you use to foster an inclusive and supportive environment for your students when you were all able to meet face-to-face each day? Did you give everyone a high five on their way in at the beginning of the day? Did you start each class with an icebreaker question to energize your students and get them ready for the lesson ahead of them? 

Whatever tools and activities you used to show your students that your classroom is a safe, collaborative, and caring environment can be translated to the hybrid world. With the right intentions, every hybrid classroom can become the warm educational community that the most effective in-person classrooms often are.

Leverage students' remote learning environments

Work with what students already have and meet them at their remote learning level. Get creative and have your class grab a bowl from the kitchen to measure the circumference or use household items for science experiments. Instead of recess or physical education, you can have students practice yoga, stretch, or play outside and take advantage of different opportunities they have at home rather than in the classroom.

Support students learning from home

A hybrid learning environment means that there will be a combination of in-person and remote students attending each class. While every school district has different protocols in place for which students attend in-person and which students attend class virtually, it is essential that all students feel supported. While many of the support-based best practices translate easily from fully in-person classes to hybrid ones, there are a few specific ways you should be supporting your students who are learning from home.

How to Support Students at Home

  • Be consistent with your communication. There is a good chance that your students are being introduced to new remote learning tools. When you are consistent in your expectations and execution of remote communication with your class, your lessons will be much smoother and more effective.
  • Find creative ways to engage your students. For students new to remote learning, there is a higher chance that they fall victim to screen fatigue. To avoid your students zoning out or disengaging during virtual lessons, utilize all the remote tech tools you can to keep classes interactive and engaging for all students.
  • Allow yourself to make mistakes. Pobody’s nerfect, and your students know that. In order to communicate to your virtual students that your remote classroom is a safe space for learning and trying new things, be honest with them about your own virtual classroom struggles so they can feel more comfortable when they face similar struggles of their own.
  • Build routines, and stick to them. We all perform better and feel better when we know what to expect, to prepare your students as best as possible for remote learning create routines for your classroom experience. To optimize the comfort level of all students, sticking to a routine will help them feel comfortable (and thrive!) in an otherwise new situation.

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Source: Medium

Hybrid learning is the new reality for many educators and students around the world. To help you make the most out of your hybrid learning experience, download our free Learn From Anywhere: Hybrid Learning Checklist.