Anyone Out There? Distance Learning Tips When Teaching Into the Void


Whether it’s delivering a lesson, holding a parent-teacher conference, or participating in a staff meeting, the distance learning space is feeling less daunting. There is one aspect, however, that makes a HUGE difference. It’s one that we have little control over as educators—an individual’s attentiveness and engagement. Keeping students’ attention is hard enough in a physical, face-to-face environment. Now that we can’t fully see our students’ reactions and body language, we are often left wondering…is anyone actually listening?

One way we can help students stay focused during a virtual lesson is to incorporate brain-based learning. We all learn in school that the brain is an organ that is part of our nervous system; but we should also try to think of it as a muscle that we can, and should, exercise regularly. So, like your biceps, your triceps, or your quads, the brain needs to workout to stay fit and healthy. So, how can we keep those student brains actively engaged & focused during a particular lesson rather than drifting off into a daydream?

Active engagement plays a role and leads to impactful learning and lasting results. It can be challenging for students, or adults, to remain focused for extended periods of time without implementing some attention jumpstarts. We like to call these brain re-energizers. These short interludes during instruction give the brain something it didn’t expect and, consequently, re-enliven it to learn. For example, perhaps your class just had a discussion about the latest reading assignment—meaning the interaction has been mainly verbal. Sometimes implementing a simple & novel brain re-energizer that uses physical movement may help prepare the class for their next learning activity.

Listen to the podcast for brain re-energizers that you can use during your next virtual meeting or class.

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Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.


About the Author

Karen Miller

Literacy Specialist